NEW YORK — Jon Stewart says his "secret" White House meetings with President Barack Obama weren't so secret, and not that big a deal.
During his penultimate week as "The Daily Show" host, Stewart reacted to a Politico story headlined "Jon Stewart's Secret White House Visits." The article said Stewart had met with the president in 2011 and again last year.
"That sounds so much more awesome than what happened," Stewart said on his show Wednesday night.
After joking about meeting with Obama "and Elvis, who's still alive," Stewart noted that he entered the White House through its public entrance and that both meetings were listed in the White House visitor logs, available for anyone to see.
"Something is not a secret just because you don't know about it," Stewart said, in a segment titled "When Barry Met Silly."
He depicted it as an invitation few Americans would reject.
"By the way, to all future presidents, if you ask me to come to Washington, I will do that," he said. "Because I have no idea how to react to that other than (say) 'what time?'"
He said Obama encouraged him not to make young Americans cynical about their government, and Stewart explained that he was actually skeptically idealistic. Otherwise, he said the conversation was much like it was when Obama appeared on "The Daily Show" earlier this month, only with a very good lunch.
"Was the president of the United States trying to influence, intimidate or flatter me?" Stewart said. "My guess is, 'uh huh.' Did it work? Might have. Was it sinister? I don't (expletive) know."
Stewart said he frequently takes calls from all sorts of important people, with the general thrust of the conversation being what a jerk he is, although he used stronger language.
Only one person ended their meeting by saying he would deny ever talking to Stewart if the conversation became public, and the screen identified him: Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes.
That may have been Ailes' idea of a joke, since he talked about his discussion with Stewart in a 2010 interview.