Humorist Mo Rocca may be the first reporter to have officially graduated from fake news correspondent at Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” to real news Correspondent at CBS News and “Sunday Morning.”
“I get paid now and I may get insurance,” Rocca told me in a phone interview on Monday. “It’s more official sounding. I think ‘Correspondent’ is capitalized and ‘contributor ‘ is not. It’s really good health insurance… I’m going to take that sick leave right away.”
When Rocca joined “Sunday Morning” in 2006, his role was to offer opinions and essays to the Charles Osgood-hosted show. “I started doing almost exclusively commentaries and then I started running out of opinions,” he said. “Then I started doing stories and I loved that. I took to it right away.”
In his new, expanded role, Rocca said he’ll be doing stories first for “Sunday Morning” but will be available to other CBS News programs. Could a spot on “60 Minutes” be in his future? “We’ll see. I’m going to be working on more than one broadcast on the network, so we’ll see.”
What about the move from fake news to real news? Although he’s many years removed from “The Daily Show” and even his four seasons at “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” the connections still linger and Rocca doesn’t hesitate to embrace his past as pretext to the future.
“It wasn’t as tricky a transition as one might think it would be,” he said. “Field pieces at all three places are about telling stories. And the best field pieces have a point of view. Obviously, tonally, it’s a little different. But one thing I love about ‘Sunday Morning’ is I’ve been able to do a broad range of pieces. I don’t know any other show where I could do a piece on the history of redistricting, a piece on the play ‘Our Town,’ and a piece on guys who wear Spanx.”
So what, exactly, is the difference between reporting on “The Daily Show” and “Sunday Morning”?
“Most of the field pieces I did at ‘The Daily Show’ would have commented more on the media’s treatment of a story,” according to Rocca. “It would be satirizing that. Maybe less on the actual content of the story and more on how the media tends to treat certain kinds of stories. That’s come in really handy at a place like ‘Sunday Morning’ because I check myself when I might be inclined to go into a solemn nod when I’m with an interview subject. So that’s good training.”
I asked Rocca if being a “Daily Show” veteran insulates his reporting from being targeted for jokes by Stewart & Co.
“I hope not,” he said. “I could use that check. That wouldn’t be a bad thing. I hope the ‘Daily Show’ watchdog is looking out for me. Because we can all use that tough love.”
Listen to the complete interview with Mo Rocca, including what stories he loves to do & whether he wants to be like Dan Rather or Walter Cronkite: