Funny Man Jon Stewart Is My Homeboy: Why the king of fake news is the last credible news source in America

By Ryan Henson
Opinion Editor

If you look at pictures of Jon Stewart from 1999, when he first inherited the “The Daily Show” from Craig Kilborn, and compare them with pictures of Stewart today you will notice one thing in particular: the man has aged.

In the lines of Stewart’s face you can see the weight of those years, and they were indeed heavy years by any measurement.  Compare the decades wear on Stewart to, dare I say it, President George W. Bush.  You’ll notice the same darkening of the eyes, the same slow deepening of the wrinkles.  However, I’ll grant that perhaps Bush’s wrinkles ran a shade deeper.

Is it any wonder that Stewart looks weary these days?  Throughout this tumultuous first decade of the 21st century, his life has consisted, day after day, of poking fun at what many times seemed humorous only as an extension of its ridiculousness.  The Bush administration gave “The Daily Show” eight years of comedy gold, yet the sting was in the reality.  People’s lives were being ruined, soldiers were dying in dusty, sun-lit foreign streets, and this country was brought to the verge of economic destruction.  It is perhaps a stretch to say that the entirety of the blame rests with George W., Dick, and Donald, but you could hardly argue that they don’t hold at least, (don’t laugh) a small part of that blame.

Who are we left to turn to for answers, for the truth, for an honest discussion of things as they really are, or ought to be?  It seems that, for the most part, the mainstream media outlets have abandoned these tenets they once clung to so steadfastly.  The 24-hour news cycle has traded stories, carefully considered and researched sound bytes that holler and stamp their feet for a single second of the ever shrinking attention span of their viewers.  Political commentators regurgitate weary discussion points and shout hollow and tired arguments at one another until the noise level reaches such intensity that you cannot distinguish a line or thought from another.

I may be beating a dead horse by bemoaning the state of the American media, but how can one overstate the importance of such a failure?  A press, both free and ambitious in its pursuit of truth, as well as quick and fierce in its identification and condemnation of deceit and distortions, is essential to the American society and democracy.

In a 2009 Time Magazine poll, which asked who was America’s most trusted newscaster now, Stewart beat everyone, including “real” news anchors such as NBC’s Brian Williams, by a considerable margin.  However surprising this may be, watching The Daily Show reveals the reason why people turn more and more to Comedy Central for a serious discussion of the topics of the day.

Yes, the jokes are often immature, and yes, it is first and foremost a comedy show, but the satire cuts right to the heart of the matter, more often than one might suspect.  In his interviews in particular, Stewart seems to be the only personality on television capable of pressuring close-lipped political figures to say what they really mean, or at least imply that they haven’t been.  Stewart is granted this privilege by his position as the comedy show host on a non-news network.  He can ask whatever he wants to. He asks the questions I would want to ask myself.  These exchanges as they go on, are more and more laced with a subtle but growing desperation at the state of our country that Stewart shares with us all.

Claims that state Stewart is nothing more than a liberal pundit puppet seem deflated now. After approaching the two year mark of the inauguration of Barack Obama, his criticisms have, if anything, sharpened.  If there is any bias possessed by Stewart, the only one I can see through the years is a rational one.  Stewart’s concerns and fears reflect those of a man who is deeply troubled by what he finds to lampoon every day: the theatrical and childlike pettiness of our political system, our floundering and cracked economy, and the hatred and ignorance that hides beneath the thin veil of slogans that claim to be preserving American values, freedoms, or traditions.  Stewart bares his frustration plainly to us, and we feel for him because we feel the same way.  We feel the same sense of desperation and futility, yet still cling, as he does, to some small but resilient hope rooted in our optimistism and faith in the enduring character of America.  So keep on keeping on Jon! Let’s just hope more people lend their ears to hear the reason you’re preaching.

9 thoughts on “Funny Man Jon Stewart Is My Homeboy: Why the king of fake news is the last credible news source in America

  1. Claims that Stewart is nothing more than a liberal pundit puppet are more important than ever. Now the Democrats are in power, and doing EXACTLY the same thing the Bush regime did (spying, torture, war, budget-busting), and Obama’s every campaign promise of transparency was a lie. Where is Stewart? Off attacking the Republicans.

    Engaging in the very same political hackery he attacks everybody else for. It’s beyond disgusting.

    I hope it’s not lost on the audience that he attacked both the anti-Bush left AND the anti-Obama right, even though they both have absolutely legimate points, in announcing the Rally to Tell America to Shut Up and Accept It. Followed by a guest appearance by war criminal and adulterer Bill Clinton.

    If the Establishment didn’t have someone like Jon Stewart, they would have to invent him.

    1. Adam,

      It’s obvious that you never watch the show. Or are you so full of rage that the slogan “Take it down a notch for America” translates in your head to: “Shut Up and Accept It.”

      That my friend is called projection. You are imposing your own worst (I hope) traits on others.

      Just because you can’t accept criticism without feeling personally threatened does not mean that other people can not.

      I’m sure you’ve been told this before, but you should learn to control your temper, or probably more accurately, your fear. Everyone that disagrees with you is not attacking you.

  2. I’ve been noticing this too. Sad really. My local newspaper wonders why it can’t sell more papers. I tell them they just copy and paste from the other media outlets and their local stories have no depth. I would probably buy newspapers again if I could find respectable journalism.

  3. I agree 100% about Jon Stewerts comedy newscast. I’ve been a fan for years. I watch local nightly news, PBS’s ‘Newshour’ and read both local and national news papers. My family and I also happen to live in a very conservative area in Ohio and sometimes feel isolated our views and beliefs. We are not radical activists, we are hard working, upper middle class (raised blue collar) and members of a mainstream religion and we believe in paying taxes to support our ever growing school system, our police , fire fighters, libraries and parks. We don’t shirk from jury duty, helping in the community or our church and we’ve taken our kids to rock concerts, museums and sporting events. In all I think we are pretty average and we are sick at heart for our country when we hear all the political fighting between parties. As a mother of five, listening to senators and representatives from both sides sounds like listening to the bickering of spoiled children. Although this isn’t new, it would be unique to see politicians actually put their ambitions aside (at least while in office) and work TOGETHER! We parents already have children to deal with we want our elected officials to be reasonable. After what is the first social thing we teach our children – TO SHARE!!

  4. As a former liberal, I still have a bit of a soft-spot for liberal thought and can sympathize with many of the points that liberals run into the ground.

    I particularly enjoy Jon Stewart. He is very intelligent, insightful and often makes a very well reasoned and thought out argument for his positions. I respect him for it. And of course, he’s quite funny.

    But, I find your questions, “who should we turn to” for answers to our difficult issues in our country, shocking. Do we continue to turn to “men”? (inclusive noun) Men who have gotten us here in the first place?

    I would agree that “W” needs to lay claim to a bit of the chaos we are currently experiencing, but I am damn weary of Barack Obama and his incapability of personal responsibility.

    He has never struck me as one who was up for the job and each and every time he throws the blame back on the previous administration, I lose even more respect for him. (Not that I had much in the first place). He looks like a little boy who is in over his head.

    I seriously beg to differ with your assertion that “people’s lives were ruined” while “W” was prez. Are you freaking kidding me?

    As long as we have freedom and the government keeps his bleepin’ hand out of the free market system, we CAN dig ourselves out of this hole.

    There are many bright, innovative and frankly, genius, people in this country that can set the economy blazing again. But, too many of them are afraid of socialist policies that will punish their efforts by taxing the holy shit out of them at every corner.

    socialism and communism has never worked. they are both idealistic philosophies meant only to tickle the brain cells of academics in the class room. I’ve entertained them myself.

    Then I friggin’ grew up.

    Here’s hoping Barry-O gets his head out of his ass soon. Though I’m not holding my breath.

    1. Your post for some reason prompted me to respond. I think that it may be a bit disingenuous to say that you have a soft spot for liberal thinking and then spend the rest of your post bashing it, ending in youe hope that OUR President gets his head out of his a$%. I am so tired of theses types of uncivil, crude,unproductive and childish comments that I had to respond to you. One point that you and many of the Obama Bashers keep making has been in my mind for awhile and I would like to try to address it.

      Imagine that you purchased a beautiful historical home. When you take possession you find that the plumbing and electricity are not what they should be, and the structure needs a lot more shoring up than you thought that it would. On top of that, your builder WON’T approve the independent contractors that you want to hire. And then of course there that matter of that hot pink room, what were they thinking?.

      While all this is going on, let’s say all the former owner’s friends are bashing you as well as someone like Architectural Digest , who is running articles every month… (Heck, everyday) asking why haven’t you restored this house back to its original splendor as you promised? And they start to attack you personally, questioning all sorts of things about you that aren’t even true and are hard to defend because they are so bizarre. Bottom line, they insist that you shouldn’t have even been able to buy a historic house because you are not American enough. Meanwhile, there is an oil spill in your ground water from a nearby oil pipe leak that is causing a major disaster for you and your community and now, because it happened on YOUR property, they are blaming you and not the company who didn’t maintain the pipeline as they should have. And of course the costs of repairs on the house are skyrocketing, but if you don’t finish the job, this historic landmark will be a lost link to history… so you plod on. And once in awhile…. you blame the former owner. In truth, the fault is a whole string of former owners, but the man who hands you the keys, seems to be the face that you put to your dilemma. And then of course there are the people who tell you that your have no right to blame the former owner.

      This has to stop. If we can’t even agree that this president was given a pile of problems (probably more than we even have clearance to know about) and give him the same sort of break that we would want for ourselves, I jmeans that we have lost our decency, kindness and goodness. Then again maybe that explains why we are having so many problems.

    2. Magnolia,

      Even though your post is off-topic (not sure what any of your comments have to do with the rally), I’d like to point out (in my own off-topic post) that there NEVER has existed for any length of time a pure and untainted free market system. It’s a theory. The wealthy (aka the powerful) have always eventually stepped up to protect their wealth, their market position, to inhibit competition, even to silence those who complained about their products.

      The all markets have always been regulated to some extent, or have turned into markets of monopolies or oligopolies.

  5. It would be nice if the “Opinion Editor” learned how to write a piece devoid of comma splices. How he can edit other’s work in a satisfactory way is beyond my ability to understand.

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