On June 23, Jezebel writer Irin Carmon posted a story called “The Daily Show’s Woman Problem,” describing the program as, “a boys’ club where women’s contributions are often ignored and dismissed.” Carmon spoke to former female employees who detailed the workplace inequities, said it was harder for a female correspondent to get a segment on air (unless she was pretty, that is), and pointed out that much of the sexist atmosphere came straight from the top — the article quoted a former executive as saying, “There’s a huge discrepancy between the Jon Stewart who goes on TV every night and the Jon Stewart who runs The Daily Show with joyless rage.” Comedy Central denied Carmon’s request to interview current employees, which unfortunately lent the article the one-sided feel of an ex-employee rant. Which is exactly what the women of TDS called it in their open letter response, posted today on The Daily Show’s website.
“Dear People Who Don’t Work Here,” the letter begins, retaining that bemused-but-annoyed tone throughout. (It was accompanied by the above picture of all of the show’s female staffers.) The letter goes on to address Carmon’s points about the dearth of female on-air faces (“Actually, we make up 40% of the staff, and we’re not all shoved into the party-planning department”), the unfair work environment for women ("We feel lucky to work in a meritocracy where someone with talent can join us as an intern and work her way up to wherever her strengths take her”), and Stewart’s alleged female-unfriendliness ("How else to describe him? What’s the word that means the opposite of sexist? That one”). The letter is signed by 32 female employees, including Olivia Munn, The Daily Show’s newest on-air correspondent, whose picture graces the Jezebel article as an example of a Daily Show hire of style and looks over substance. One thing’s for sure: It’s good that no one asked Craig Kilborn to weigh in.