Today is a momentous day for political theater as later tonight millions of Americans will tune in for a big tv event. I’m of course talking about the final Daily Show featuring Jon Stewart.
There are several commentaries exploring what a fantastic fraud Stewart was. This one is a few years old, but here’s Jim Treacher exposing Stewart’s two-faced nature.
Stewart has been playing this game for years, most notably back in 2004 when he comment-trolled my future boss, called him a dick*, and said he’s ruining America. Then, he responded to the ensuing discussion with, “You guys do know I’m on Comedy Central, right?” Stewart wants you to take his political opinions seriously, but then when you try to engage his argument, he draws back and says, “Whoa, I’m just a comedian!” Yes, you can be a comedian and yes, you can be a pundit. You can even be both over the course of the same conversation. But Stewart plays the two roles against each other to deflect criticism, and it’s dishonest.
Call it Clown Nose On, Clown Nose Off.
Bill McMorriss calls him the left’s Donald Trump. He delves into how Stewart ceased being an honest broker, pulling his punches when it came to Democrats. He also highlights Stewart’s simplistic and dull “humor.”
When Stewart first rushed onto the scene of renegade, devil-may-care truth-telling, the zeitgeist of the day demanded howling lamentations of soundbite politics. Stewart is the chief pioneer of soundbite humor, the news of the day broken into out-of-context eight-second clips followed by three to five minutes of the host making funny faces and sighing loudly as each one plays.
It’s the comedic equivalent of saying “ugh,” of Popsicle-stick one-liners, only less original. It was built for our SEO-fueled, clickbait-laden age. Stewart may despise the “Watch Jon Stewart DEMOLISH Idaho’s Infamous Homophobic, Bigoted, Sexist, Cis-Gendered Republican County Dog Catcher” headlines that accompany each one of his segments, but those headlines have been routine for nearly a decade and the show has never deviated from its formula.
Then there’s the matter of his dishonest editing.
That’s exactly what Stewart did to former Libertarian presidential nominee Wayne Allen Root when it aired a segment of him bashing the Internal Revenue Service for profiling Tea Party groups while seemingly defending racial profiling that he’d spent his career condemning.
“When the interviewer asked the 3 guests for their opinion of me…all 3 said something nice. The director said, ‘Cut. C’mon guys. This is supposed to be funny. Please say something funny or negative about Wayne. Like ‘rich white guy’ or ‘Fox News guy.’ And then they turned the camera back on…and each guest said something negative about me,” Root said in an email to Reason.
Here’s John Daniel Davidson, also writing in the Federalist.
This is no small thing. Stewart has managed to convince large numbers of Americans, especially Millennials, that he is a real-life newsman and can be trusted as a news source, but also, paradoxically, that he’s just a comedian making jokes about the absurd political news of the day. In a recent survey, self-identifying liberals said they trusted “The Daily Show” more than Fox News and CNN. Among moderates, he’s more trusted than MSNBC.
. . . The purpose of the show is to entertain, sure, but the purpose of the entertainment is to discredit political opponents of the Left. More or less the same is true of liberal “explanatory journalism” outfits like Vox and Politifact, which exist largely to provide Left-leaning readers with liberal talking points on the issues of the day. As Kevin Williamson pointed out last year, Jon Stewart and Ezra Klein are cut from the same cloth: “For the Left, the maker of comedy and the maker of graphs perform the same function. It does not matter who does the ‘destroying,’ so long as it gets done.”
And here’s a video at Reason TV: Five Reasons Jon Stewart is Full of (well, you know.)
I will not shed a tear for Stewart’s departure. He has done more to damage political discourse than anyone else in this country. Young hipster leftists have been reduced to snarky brats who have no ability to truly analyze or even honestly assess their opponent’s political views. I am no stranger to snark or sarcasm, but these are essentially the only arrows in their quiver. Stewart may have been as much a reflection of this pose as an inspiration, but either way we’re better off without this shill on air four nights a week.