Photo: REX USA/Stewart Cook; REX USA/Everett Collection.
Jon Stewart and Co. came under some major Twitter fire this week when they made the mistake of picking on One Direction. Fans of the boy band went apocalyptic after The Daily Show's senior Pentagon correspondent Jessica Williams implied that "one member" of One Direction was involved in a new super terrorist group.
In the segment that aired Tuesday, September 23, Williams and Stewart were discussing new [fictional] terrorist groups. "Just as you were talking," she quipped, "a new terrorist group formed, with one member each from ISIS, al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda, Hamas, One Direction, and the Zetas drug cartel." (You can watch the full clip below.)
Williams was riffing on the extreme loyalty of members of terrorist groups by relating them to the extreme loyalty teenage fandoms have toward their fearless, fresh-faced leaders. Directioners have since unleashed a déluge of statements defending their idols via Twitter, Tumblr, et. al, resulting in trending hashtags like #TheDailyShowGoneTooFar and #ZaynDefenseSquad. And, in doing so, they proved Williams' point: These fans are devout and will stop at nothing to uphold the image of their icons.
The Daily Show was right about 1D fans, but they should have done their research before randomly choosing to include the band. One of the members Zayn Malik is Muslim and of Pakistani descent. Another super fandom could easily have been substituted for One Direction. The violent threats 1D fans have tweeted ("People like that should die #sorrynotsorry #TheDailyShowGoneTooFar") would just have likely come from Gaga's Monsters and Taylor Swift's Swifties, as both fandoms have histories of making violent remarks in the name of their idols.
The show's response to the outrage fell short of an apology:
The Daily Show continually calls out other news organizations for their sloppy coverage. It seems this time Stewart and his staff should take a minute to consider their own misstep and not just write off 1D fans — and the implications of calling a member of One Direction a terrorist — so quickly. (The Daily Beast)