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: Who are you?
Mo Rocca: I’m from Washington, D.C. – the suburbs of Washington, D.C. – Bethesda, Maryland. And Washington is a mill town like Los Angeles. It’s a one-industry town. You could argue that that industry is entertainment in both cities, but Washington’s all about politics. Anything else going on there is at least treated as if it’s peripheral. And I think that’s where my love for politics – I think I’m a political junkie – comes from; from growing up in a town where the president is sort of above the title film star. You know I think if I had grown up in L.A., I would look at the gates of Paramount the same way that I look at the gates of the White House. For better or for worse, I am fascinated by the personality aspects of the presidency. This campaign to me is a star making process. I grew up in a house where people talked about politics a lot; where I could hear talk radio. My father had a transistor radio, and the show I remember him listening to was “Braden and Buchanan”, which was Pat Buchanan and Tom Braden. Tom Braden would make a lot of money and make his bones as the author of “Eight is Enough”. That was his story that eventually became a TV story. And I think they were the original “Crossfire”. What was that show? Yeah “Crossfire”, and they were really good. Braden was the liberal; Buchanan was the conservative. And I didn’t understand all that I was hearing, but I remember listening to it in the car when my father would go to his trumpet playing class. We were . . . My mother and maybe one of my other two brothers would come along. And I just remember hearing that show in the car, and hearing it around the house as my father took his transistor radio around with him from room to room. He liked listening to talk radio. And I think I enjoyed the pairing and thrust. I enjoyed the theater of it. And they were good. They were really good – much better than the scream fests that go on now.
Recorded on: 2/14/08