Seth MacFarlane on feud w/ Jon Stewart: ‘my publicist forbid me to talk about it’

“Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane was on Piers Morgan last night. I’m not a real “Family Guy” fan, but I recognize how gloriously obnoxious and funny it can be and I love how it pushes boundaries. There was a joke on “Family Guy” back during the Writers Guild strike of 2007-2008 making fun of Jon Stewart for continuing to produce shows instead of honoring the strike. (I can’t find that footage from “Family Guy,” so if any of you have seen it, please comment with a link!) After that happened, Jon Stewart personally called Seth MacFarlane up and bitched to him about it for an hour. On the show last night, Morgan questioned MacFarlane about this phone call with Stewart, and MacFarlane was all “how did you find out about this,” but he actually talked about it in a 2008 Time interview*. (I was ready to blame wiretapping.)

During the taping for tonight’s Piers Morgan, the muckraking Brit sprang questions about a never-revealed war of war of words between guest Seth MacFarlane andThe Daily Show anchor Jon Stewart. According to Morgan’s crack investigators, Stewart called the Family Guy creator up in 2008 after MacFarlane lampooned Stewart for continuing to air The Daily Show during the 2007 Writers Guild strike. MacFarlane described Stewart as “angry” and himself both “shocked” and “frustrated” during the hour-long the telephonic ambush. He explained, “I think [Jon’s] response was ‘Who the hell made you the moral arbiter of Hollywood?’”

When Morgan noted, “There’s a certain irony in Jon Stewart ringing up and haranguing you for mocking him, isn’t there?” MacFarlane responded, “If I say yes, he’ll crucify me on his show for a year.” MacFarlane, who admitted he was outmatched by Stewart’s phenomenal debate skills, was surprised Morgan even knew about the altercation, saying, “My publicist has forbidden me to talk about this ever since it happened.”

[From Entertainment Weekly]

Well MacFarlane did talk about this in 2008 as we mentioned, and after he told Time I bet that was when his publicist told him to can it.

I used to not get the appeal of this guy that so many of you adore, but now that I’ve seen him interviewed I get it. He has an infectious enthusiasm, and he’s open, funny and smart. I like what how he explained his position on this to Morgan. “In that situation I think it is incumbent on people in a certain position to stand up for the people who haven’t made it yet, if that can, if it’s low risk.

“My argument is that you’re the most successful guy on that network and arguably the most successful television personality in the genre…. He was not pleased. I think his response was, ‘who the hell made you the moral arbiter of Hollywood.’”

I really like Stewart’s humor and politics, and I get the urge to continue to put out shows during a long strike, but MacFarlane made a very good argument here. He also stood up for the union during the strike. Here’s a link to a video of him speaking at a WGA event in 2007. He said “A novelist receives fair royalties for their books, a musician receives fair royalties for their songs, screenwriters deserve fair royalties for their work.”

*Thanks to VideoGum for a lot of the background links!





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54 Responses to “Seth MacFarlane on feud w/ Jon Stewart: ‘my publicist forbid me to talk about it’”

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  1. bros says:

    shwatev. if jon felt it necessary to call him and give him an earfull for an hour, it must have been worth it. jon’s neither unreasonable nor vindictive, and if he thought there was a debate to be had, I applaud him for that. you’ll notice seth says nothing about him being dickish or rude.

  2. Eve says:

    I used to not get the appeal of this guy that so many of you adore, but now that I’ve seen him interviewed I get it. He has an infectious enthusiasm, and he’s open, funny and smart.

    Really? I mean…REALLY?

    I find him obnoxious, conceited, childish and bitter most of the time. He has always struck me as someone who can dish it out but can’t take it.

    Do not like him, am starting to really hate his shows — actually, it’s the same show done three times — and in these pictures he looks ridiculous.

    How much make-up does a guy need? He looks like he’s made of terracotta here.

    • CPB says:

      100% agree. This guy is the biggest tool ever. Also, “MacFarlane made a very good argument here.” – Author
      No, MacFarlane narcissistically believes he is a champion of the peasant writer’s rights, but it couldn’t be firther from the truth. The guy parades around in public, putting himself on display and confuses forcing one’s opinion on the public with intellectualism. I have yet to see this guy say something “witty”. He makes me want to puke…and the chin implant ain’t helping.

  3. MJ says:

    I’m actually impressed by the lack of trash talking. You can tell there’s some mutual respect there.

  4. mln76 says:

    I love Jon’s show but he’s very vindictive. He seems to take glee in taking down right wing reporters and he’s done it more than once ask Tucker Carlson. Oh and it was definitely hypocritical of him to perform during a strike.

  5. Talie says:

    Stewart has a long history of being oversensitive and nuts.

  6. Stubbylove says:

    These two can bitch-slap each other all they want – they’re both hot, smart and sexy as hell.

  7. Eve says:

    By the way, yes, I love Jon Stewart. If he thought he had a point there is no reason for why he shouldn’t talk about it (with MacFarlane).

  8. Leticia says:

    Conan O’Brian personally paid the salaries of 80 employees during the strike, out of loyalty and appreciation to his staff.

    The Writers’ Guild and other unions rebuked Ellen Degeneres for not stopping production of her show during the strike, so Jon Stewart is not alone in this. There were many who gave verbal support for the strike, but gave no practical support in the form of money, etc. It is hard to walk the walk.

  9. The Original Mia says:

    John didn’t have to continue working through the strike. As noted above, Conan paid his people and refused to carry on with his show. Seth was right.

  10. SailorAlphaCentauri says:

    While I will give a bit of credit to Seth for the way he discussed this issue on the show, I still can’t stand the man. There is something about him that screams arrogance (and his shows drive me crazy; I have never seen the Cleveland show and probably won’t until Adult Swim shoves it down my throat in 2013).

  11. Roxy750 says:

    Stewart is an obnoxious and arrogant ARSE. I’m over this guy.

  12. Rachel says:

    @mln76 No one deserved to be taken down more than Tucker Carlson.

  13. danielle says:

    I like them both, but on this issue, Team McFarlane. (and Stewart is smart and talented, but I’ve also heard he can be an *ss)

  14. Pyewacket says:

    Cannot stand Stewart and his attitude.

  15. xxodettexx says:

    i respect both and can easily think of things i dont like about each; i think its great that jon called him up and debated seth and i equally love that seth stood his ground and didnt back down, but american dad alone puts me into teamSeth for now… :) [sorry but roger, francine and steve are hilarious and out of the macfarlane dads, stan is the most honest and actual well-intentioned dad… okay i am done geeking out

  16. lee says:

    I love Jon Stewart and generally dislike Seth McFarlane, although I am impressed by the way he handled this.

    I see both sides though, I agree that Conan’s approach is ideal, but I was under the impression that Jon Stewart kept doing his show to allow non-writers to continue getting paid. Cameramen and assistants weren’t getting any benefits from the strike and were out of work just like writers if the show stopped production. I think Jon lent his vocal support to the writers while continuing production for the rest of the staff.

  17. Bad Fairy says:

    Funny because Jon Stewart has made himself the “moral arbiter” of everything over the past couple of years.

  18. Elizabeth S. says:

    I’m not a big fan of either of them, but on balance I’m going to side with MacFarlane.

    I don’t find Jon Stewart funny. Not even a litttle. I don’t understand why everyone feels the need to talk about how “brilliant” he is.

    And, contrary to what some of the commenters are saying, I think he’s perfectly capable of being unreasonable and vindictive.

  19. lolas says:

    I thought I read Jon Stewart also paid his staff during the strike…?

  20. Elizabeth S. says:


    Stewart could have still paid the non writing staff.

  21. mln76 says:

    @Rache touche. I am so not a Tucker Carlson fan. Nor am I a fan of Rick Sanchez . But at a certain point Jon has to stop with the whole ‘I am just a comedian with no agenda schtick’. He has an agenda. He is a liberal, intelligent, hilarious, political satirist. He takes down the jerks on the right. But with that kind of moral superiority you also have to walk the walk. Last time I checked crossing a strike line is one of the worst things a liberal can do.

  22. Ally says:

    I think Jon Stewart is a misogynist and an anti-union guy anyway. I stopped watching when he mocked the protesters in Wisconsin.

    Clearly, he thinks the little people should accept whatever crappy wage he gives them, with no right to negotiate for better. And women should be personal assistants and make-up artists.

    He’s just a cranky rich old fart now. He mentioned last year that Michael Bloomberg was his kind of politician. Government by the rich for the rich! Fine for Jon Stewart, but I don’t see why the other 99% should support that self-indulgence.

  23. Ally says:

    @Elizabeth S: He also got into an indignant snit when people mocked how vapid and pointless his rally was.

  24. aenflex says:

    i love them both and hope they argued civily, they seemed to have…

  25. Miss Beca says:

    Jon Stewart used to be funny. Then people started looking to him for ACTUAL news. that is, i believe, the point where he crawled right up his own ass. now i just find him insufferable.

  26. lucy2 says:

    Agree with your whole post, lee.

    I don’t know all the details of it but I think the networks pressured all those guys to keep going. Plus I would imagine it’s tough to walk the walk when the crew you’ve worked with for a long time is out of work and hurting too.
    I don’t think Stewart makes anywhere near the salary Letterman, Conan, etc do, but I agree it was great of Conan and others who paid out of pocket to help.

    Ally, I’m not sure if you saw something I didn’t, but TDS & JS always seemed supportive of the Wisconsin teachers vs. the Repub. governor trying to strip their union rights. I can’t say I’ve ever gotten the impression that he’s anti-union, or personally misogynistic.

  27. Riana says:

    I adore Seth and his funny shaped head and while I love him and Stewart I have to openly eyebrowarchandlongstare the hell out of John Stewart.


    The dude who EVERY EPISODE OF HIS SHOW is a moral arbitration is bitching to someone else for not giving him a “Well Johns on our side of the fence” pass? For shame Johnny, for shame.

  28. velourazure says:

    aside from their political leanings, i don’t see the difference between stewert and bill o’reilly. both are full-of-themselves blowhards.

  29. matt says:

    I gotta say, Brian Griffin there can be kind of a douche sometimes, but he’s spot on on this one.

    Jon should have walked out.

    And Seth does actually come across as quite likable in interviews.

  30. Sanka says:

    I like them both but I’m sure each have character flaws.

    Love McFarlane’s latest big band album – it’s currently running on cable. And I also am impressed with how he conveys his political position when he appears on Real Time with Bill Maher.

  31. Johnny Bones says:

    You might want to fact check and see if anyone at The Daily Show missed a paycheck during the strike, both union AND non-union. Wonder where that money came from? MacFarlane hid behind his animation and is using it now to drum up press to sell songs. Classy.

  32. ShanKat says:

    Seth is a hot piece. I suffered through several chunks of Charlie Sheen’s “roast” just to check out Seth and his well-cut pants. I mean sharp comic delivery.

  33. Stubbylove says:

    A jew and an athiest in my bizzare fantasy threesome. How can you go wrong?

  34. whateveryouwantittobe says:

    He looks like Stewie.

  35. LOVE ANGELINA says:

    I love love love love them both. This doesn’t sound like that big a deal anymore so why dwell on it.

  36. UKHels says:

    don’t think either of them are right or wrong and I think it’s testament to both that it’s the first time I’ve heard of it

    personally I wouldn’t cross a picket line but I recognise that as my personal choice

    Stewart is divine, I totally get him

    Morgan on the other hand… total scumbag, he is reviled across the UK – why do you think he’s gone over there?

  37. Annie says:

    To be fair, Jon Stewart is an equal opportunity mocker…He certainly Never aligns with the rich.
    Only someone who’s never seen him could draw this conclusion.
    I was under the impression he paid his writers to..and while Seth mentions his attitude he withholds his reasoning…I doubt his publicist would tell him to stop if he were in the right.
    Finally, after what Jon Stewart did for the 1st responders of 911 he will always be my hero!!

  38. John says:

    The funniest part was Stewart being indignant that McFarland was appointing himself as some kind of “moral arbiter.” Stewart doesn’t want anyone horning in on his territory, I guess.

  39. Chris says:

    Meh. They’re both capitalists. The real heroes of the left are occupying Wall Street.

  40. liv says:

    first time seeing pierce morgan…he’s so annoying

  41. Hakura says:

    SailorAlphaCentaur“While I will give a bit of credit to Seth for the way he discussed this issue on the show, I still can’t stand the man. There is something about him that screams arrogance (and his shows drive me crazy; I have never seen the Cleveland show and probably won’t until Adult Swim shoves it down my throat in 2013).”

    I’ve peronally avoided ‘The Cleveland Show’ myself, because I just don’t feel it started out with much of a leg to stand on as much as originality goes. If I’m not mistaken, the show was the idea of the voice actor for Cleveland, & Seth told them to ‘go with it’. So it’s not exactly something I put on McFarlane.
    I do agree that I like the fact that he didn’t say anything insulting about what happened. Even those in the business who decide not to talk about something can sometimes be surprised by a question, & slip something negative.

    After so much huge success, most people would probably be a bit arrogant. At least he knows when to bite his infamously sharp tongue.

  42. Kathy says:

    Stewart is such a narcissistic coward. I stopped watching him years ago when I could no longer heasr anything he was saying over the very loud din of his own ego.

    Go to Pajiba and look up the story they linked to about how people are terrified to even call him out for what a terrible man he is to work for b/c they know he will make sure they never work again.

    MacFarlane obviously has quite a bit of ego, too. But there is no way Stewart would have handled himself with nearly as much grace as MacFarlane did on Morgan’s show. Stewart would NEVER back down or concede ANYTHING no matter what.

    If Stewart never has to explain himself then why should MacFarlane?

  43. Gigohead says:

    From what I gather, the last writer’s strike was a dud. It never resolved anything. Not sure if Seth’s jab at Stewart even resolved anything. So what was the point???

  44. Joe says:

    Look, I like Jon Stewart, and even though the shows (in my humble opinion) have fallen off, I like Seth MacFarlane. I have always liked how Seth MacFarlane’s humor doesn’t hold back. No one is safe from him, he is very liberal biased. VERY! For him to go out and call out the LEADER of the liberal agenda, effin A! Calling someone out for being a hypocrite is a part of being in the limelight! I like whoever said above that its funny Stewart got mad considering that he acts like the moral arbiter of everything! No one handled the strike better than Matt Stone and Trey Parker. They were like, “well, we write our own stuff, and we own the rights to our creations. so, yeah, let’s make fun of the strike!!” Get real. Novelists and musicians get royalties for THEIR creations, a writer who comes on to writes a season or two of Simpsons before they bring in a fresh crew don’t deserve royalties.

  45. Charlotte says:

    I want Seth for Christmas. I love his Tweets, he’s got a wicked sense of humor.

  46. Hakura says:

    @Gigohead“Not sure if Seth’s jab at Stewart even resolved anything. So what was the point???”

    I can’t speak for the strike, but McFarlane seems like a pretty equal-opportunity ‘jabber’ when he disagrees with someone. xD I don’t think there really has to be a ‘point’.

    I’d never claim he didn’t have an ego, though. (He could be a complete douchebag for all I know), & I’m sure he gives off a superior attitude & rubs a lot of people the wrong way. But he speaks intelligently (always a plus) & I respect his not fearing a backlash. I *don’t* think he takes himself too seriously.

  47. Callumna says:

    An episode of Family Guy is all racist and bigoted jokes with 3 jokes about pedophilia nearly per episode. So morals are not his strong suit.

    You don’t get a “pass” if you think we think you don’t really mean it, after all, it’s how his mind truly thinks.

    He’s a Chelsea Handler, no one in Hollywood would stand for it if he were a Republican and no Republican would watch.

    Plus the trashing of Palin’s kid for being special needs was vile.

  48. Bec says:

    Seth McFarlane is an awful human being. He makes rape jokes and jokes about fathers molesting their daughters. I’m surprised only one person mentioned that so far in the thread. I think he is a sick f–ker no matter how brilliant (or hot) he may be.
    Jon Stewart does not make the kind of money Conan does- not even close- to pay his crew. He makes barely nothing compared to what other hoats make. The writers wanted to continue working — that was their choice. Whatever Stewart & his writers did, comes no where near the detriment and pain that I am sure McFarlane has caused so I think it’s crazy that he would criticize anyone. Jon Stewart is the Mark Twain of our day. Sounds like McFarlane had his ass handed to him over the phone and he knows it.

  49. Eve says:

    @ Chris:

    Meh. They’re both capitalists. The real heroes of the left are occupying Wall Street.

    Like my beloved Mark Ruffalo (and he was wearing The Avengers cap! I know, I know…kinda capitalist in itself, but he’s got three kids to feed).

    @ Annie:

    and while Seth mentions his attitude he withholds his reasoning…I doubt his publicist would tell him to stop if he were in the right.


    @ Bec:

    Sounds like McFarlane had his ass handed to him over the phone and he knows it.

    I got that impression too.

    By the way, the character “Herbert” (the old pedophile) got to be a hero in one of their episodes (against the old former Nazi officer).

  50. Matt says:

    Apparently the WGA accused Comedy Central of forcing Stewart and Colbert to go back to work (according to a New York Times article). Did anyone do their research? Doesn’t really sound like they had a choice nor does it sound like the WGA holds any contempt for Stewart or Colbert. Some of you people are just talking out of your *sses. I like both guys and not even sure who I agree with more, but man some of you just need to shut up.