By: Danielle Apfel
After 16 years on the air, Jon Stewart is leaving The Daily Show on Comedy Central. This Thursday, August 6th, will be his final episode before The Daily Show takes a hiatus before resuming with new host, Trevor Noah.
With 18 Emmy Awards and many more accomplishments, Jon Stewart has been leading political commentary for much of the past two decades. Alongside the likes of Stephen Colbert and John Oliver, Stewart has dominated the much more prevalent satirical take on political news. While not technically a news outlet, Stewart’s program centers on major newsworthy topics and individuals, including, but not limited to, politicians, celebrities, and authors.
Due to his ability to bring humor and satire to important events and individuals, Stewart is able to reach a wide range of viewers for those of who appear to be more cynical and skeptical of today’s society. His program appeals to jaded Americans brought up in the difficult times since the Cold War, as well as Millennials who remain unsure of how to navigate the digressing political sphere. He is not afraid to expose the hypocrisy of politicians, nor critique the fabrications and misrepresentations that biased media outlets often present.
Over his illustrious career, Stewart has received both a series of praise and of disapproval from political leaders, correspondents, and news outlets alike. Though many political pundits recognize his ability to reach and inform his audience without the preconceived biases that come with personalized media, there are many who condemn his cynical attitude and claim he himself is the hypocrite. While Stewart never claimed to be an official news outlet, he believes that through a comedic lens he may still discuss newsworthy topics.
Recently, Stewart was accused in a Politico report of having clandestine meetings with President Obama, and thought to have influenced international activities. The New York Times followed up on this story, as well as many other news outlets, most prominently right-winged commentators. In response, Stewart shuts down the accusations by asserting that simply not knowing about a meeting, found in public records, does not make the meeting itself a secret.
Many right-winged and conservative political leaders have battled against Stewart and his growing audience, attempting to debunk his political clout. For quite some time, GOP commentators, such as Rush Limbaugh, have directly opposed Stewart and his supposed “political intentions.” However, Stewart has continued to steadily criticize where an outside look is necessary and beneficial.
While he claims to be a centrist, with no ideological commitment, Jon Stewart has generally appeared to lean left. With a high level of scrutiny over right-winged conservatives, his critique of liberals, including President Obama, does not seem as balanced. Though this could imply that he is biased, perhaps it simply means that more inclusive policies (a.k.a LGBT rights, gender equality, civil rights, etc.) are what’s right and not simply a product of the Democratic Party. David Remnick, of The New Yorker, put it best; “Stewart is a centrist only in this sense: he is not so much pro-left as he is anti-bullshit.”
And that is what perfectly sums up his long tenure as a lead political comedian. Television will lose a great host come later this week. With the August 6th finale quickly approaching, the world will soon lose a major frontrunner of public figures unafraid to blast the discrepancies, deceptions, and ambiguity that make up politics today.