Jon Stewart is finally wrapping up his 16-year-long hit late night program The Daily Show. Yet despite the fanfare Stewart leaves behind a legacy little different than those he mocked: a shameless partisan mouthpiece. Stewart’s exit on Thursday will mark an end to the openly democratic comic’s bashing of conservative values and downright hostility to the right wing.
Stewart’s The Daily Show became a popular feature in many U.S. citizens’ prime time viewership. So much so that a 2014 Brookings Institution study showed more people trusted the show than they did the news on MSNBC.
Despite this huge confidence Americans placed in the comic, Stewart bypassed credible non partisan infotainment for playing lap dog to the Democratic establishment. His endless ranting and bashing of conservatives include famously asking MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, “The left always says, ‘We’re not black and white. I didn’t like Bush because he was so black and white and there’s not a nuance.’ Do you think the left ever suffers from that same myopia?” On criticizing George. W. Bush, “I would suggest that it wasn’t necessarily just, ‘This is wrong for the country,’ but that ‘you’re a bad man.'”
Stewart perfected the art of one way mockery. His script was as simple as they could ever get: the right wing deserves bashing, the left wing friendly questioning. His largely liberal following loved it, especially in the Bush-Cheney era of Republican control of the House and Senate.
In 2013, when Stewart mocked Obamacare too much, he got called out by his fans, compelling him to respond by saying it was equal–opportunity joking.
Could Stewart’s script have been part of a larger picture to sell the leftist establishment’s controversial policies? A recent report by the Politico indicates just that.
According to the report, Stewart met with President Barrack Obama before the big stories hit. And just to ensure the establishment’s narrative was properly set out, Obama’s personal aides worked with the show’s writers to ensure their stories were well represented.
“That work-the-umps strategy also involved the president, who used his two Oval Office meetings with Stewart as a chance to sell the administration’s ideas. At the 2011 sit-down, [Obama aide] Goolsbee said, the president wanted to counter his critics on the left and lay the groundwork for his 2012 reelection campaign,” stated Austan Golsbee, Obama’s senior economic advisor, in the report.
So devoted was Stewart to the liberals’ cause that the New York Posts’ Kyle Smith said of his style, “Remember when, under a Republican president, it was the duty of all comedians to be the loyal opposition, to speak truth to power? Stewart does the opposite.”
Stewart himself admitted his partisan comedic bashing on the famous hour-long MSNBC interview with Maddow when he said, “We have a tendency to grant amnesty to people that we agree with and to overly demonize people we don’t. I do the same thing. I think everybody does.”
For conservatives across the U.S., news of Stewart’s departure is a godsend and though likely will not mark a return back to the age of neutral comedy. Comedy Central, the TV network which ran the Daily Show, knows this audience well and has already taken steps to ensure they stay tuned-in through the post-Stewart era.