Maurice Alberto (Mo) Rocca is an American writer, comedian, and political satirist, is known for his off-beat news reports, satirical commentary, and as a former correspondent for The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (1998-2003). Originally from Washington, DC, Rocca graduated from Harvard University in 1991 with a B.A. in literature. He served as president of Harvard's Hasty Pudding Theatricals, performing in four of the company's notorious burlesques and even co-authoring one (Suede Expectations). Later, he worked as a writer and producer for the children's television series Wishbone (1995), The Wubbulous World of Dr. Seuss (1996) and Pepper Ann (1997), and also as a consulting editor to the men's magazine Perfect 10. Rocca is a regular panelist on NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! and a regular contributor to CBS' Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood. He is a regular correspondent for NBC's Tonight Show, most recently providing 2008 election coverage, as well as for MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann. He was a celebrity commentator on VH1's Best week ever, as well as the I Love The... shows. He was the host of Things I Hate About You on Bravo. Rocca was an on-the-floor correspondent for Larry King on CNN at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, which he called an "Obamarama." He returned as a correspondent for the 2004 Republican National Convention.
Question: Does “The Daily Show” make young people more cynical?
Mo Rocca: Yes. But the . . . I think “The Daily Show” has always been, I think, sort of half about making fun of the conventions of television news; and then making fun of news events themselves. And the second is sort of time honored – you know pointing out the disparity between what a leader says and does. And that . . . that space, that disparity is a sweet spot where the funny is. And that’s time honored and that’s been around forever, and that’s a good thing. And then the first half of it, I think, is the parity element and making fun of the excesses of the anchorwoman on MSNBC who is breathless over Paris Hilton and then spends five minutes on that. And then follows up with 30 seconds about, you know, a major health care crisis or something like that. So . . . And I don’t wanna . . . I’m becoming a little over flooded here, but the . . . I think that that’s a . . . I don’t think that there is any danger . . . I think that’s worth . . . I think that’s worth mocking a lot. I think it’s worth . . . I think that’s worth mocking a lot. So if people become very cynical about television news coverage, I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world. I think if . . . I think if the show decided to just spray gunfire at everything – at print journalists . . . at every print journalist as well, at every thinker, then every columnist, you know, I don’t know how practical that would be. I mean that would be terrible. I guess what I’m saying is . . . And I hadn’t thought of this before, but if it means that people watch a little less cable news and go elsewhere for their news, well that’s not so bad. I mean I guess. I mean I think . . . I mean ultimately I think like the . . . When people say oh . . . say, “Is the show or shows like that making . . . Are shows like that making people lose faith in the whole process?” I don’t think so. I don’t think a politician’s wings can be clipped enough.
Recorded on: 2/14/08