Photo: Jon Stewart Best Moments
Welcome back to public society, Mr. Stewart! Don’t worry, not much has happened since you’ve been gone…
In all seriousness, Jon Stewart is easily one of the greatest television hosts ever. Stewart’s trademark brand of sardonic news commentary has fundamentally changed the landscape of late-night comedy and has jump-started the careers of a murderer’s row of comedians, including John Oliver, Steve Carell, Trevor Noah, Stephen Colbert, Larry Wilmore, Rob Corddry, Rachael Harris, Lewis Black, Aasif Mandvi, Samantha Bee, Ronny Chieng, Jordan Klepper, Jaboukie Young-White, Ed Helms, Desi Lydic, Michael Che, Josh Gad, Olivia Munn, Hasan Minhaj, and Rob Riggle among others. So in honor of Stewart’s return to the internet, let’s look back at the landmark moments that made up his historic run on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” as well as his other pursuits since leaving the iconic program.
Jon Stewart Best Moments:
Coverage of the 2000 Election Results
The 2000 Election between Governor George W. Bush and former Vice President and environmentalist Al Gore was one of the most talked-about elections in modern history, and The Daily Show’s coverage of the various controversies surrounding the election was no different. Dubbed “Indecision 2000,” Stewart’s coverage of the processing of election results made for some of the most entertaining television of the 2000s, with numerous segments dedicated to how a US election could be mishandled to such a major degree, to the point where shady statewide recounts essentially reversed the results in the state of Florida, awarding the victory to 43rd President Bush.
Questions about election integrity hadn’t really been raised publicly before this point, which made Stewart’s honesty and sharp wit all the more poignant in a confusing time such as this one. There is perhaps nothing I associate with Stewart more than the facial expressions he made while covering the Hanging Chad scandal. Comedians live and die by their ability to convey emotions humorously through their expressions, and Stewart is no exception, with his combination of shock, disappointment, and amusement permanently etched into my brain.
The 9/11 Aftermath and Subsequent Work With First Responders
Jon Stewart came to prominence at a time when the US was entering one of the darkest periods in its history. The Bush administration and the tragedies that would follow shaped American popular culture, and Jon Stewart was at the forefront of it all. When 9/11 occurred, no one had seen anything like it, and the seriousness of the moment was emphasized by Stewart’s now-iconic response. Back then, late-night hosts didn’t really react seriously to tragedies, and were more expected to just crack jokes and remain light-hearted, even in the face of disaster, but Stewart’s somber and oftentimes harsh episode was astounding television and made for one of the most iconic moments in what would be a momentous career.
After the tragedy itself, Stewart spent the better part of the next two decades working to ensure financial security for the first responders and victims of the event. He has made his passion known through the many rousing speeches he’s given on the subject, and has dedicated countless funds and man-hours to securing futures for these heroes. He has remained unafraid to show his own personal emotion in this humanitarian work (exemplified by him breaking down in tears while testifying in court on behalf of the 9/11 first responders), and has shown real grit and determination in his fight for these people and their families. This has proven that Stewart is more than just talk, and is genuinely one of the most sincere and charitable people in entertainment.
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His Interview with ‘Mad Money’s Jim Cramer
Stewart’s position as the reasonable mouthpiece for the average American has made him some enemies over the years, perhaps none bigger than “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer. In an explosive 2009 interview, Stewart skewers Cramer over his irresponsible coverage of the US economy for almost the entire show, essentially blaming him and his colleagues for the 2009 Financial Crisis and subsequent Great Recession. In a time where financial security and stock markets are more in conversation than ever before, the episode makes for a very interesting retrospective, as it colors some of the concerns many have raised about the economy since the r/wallstreetbets situation, and demonstrates how big businesses and their associated media personalities can manipulate the truth about how finances are handled. It’s sometimes hard to watch someone embarrass themselves on national TV, but in the case of Jim Cramer, I’ll tolerate it.
Reporting in Iran
Stewart has always flexed his substantial journalistic skills in episodes of “The Daily Show,” but I don’t think it became apparent just how resourceful of a man he was until his 2010 coverage of Iran. Sending correspondence to the war-torn country, to begin with, was an incredibly risky play, but resulted in one of the most fascinating episodes in the show’s long run, allowing audiences a stark look at the harsh reality that is living under the Iranian government. This was an earth-shattering moment for late-night television, as it showed that Stewart and his colleagues were not just hilarious media personalities, but also intelligent journalists who were actually interested in finding and communicating the truth about controversial subjects.
This story opened the doors for future late-night hosts to undergo similar endeavors, such as when former “Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver interviewed whistleblower Edward Snowden while he was seeking refuge in Russia. Stories like this demonstrate even more of Stewart’s trademark sincerity and dedication to real journalistic integrity and made for some of the most captivating television of the last 25 years.
Jon Stewart hates Arby’s. That’s it, that’s the joke. He’s used the restaurant as an easy punching bag throughout his entire run in the public eye, and I couldn’t thank him more for it. So gross.
Jon Stewart is a man of many talents. Sure, he’s one of the funniest men on the planet, I think that’s basically a given at this point. But what makes Stewart such a unique figure in the greater pop culture landscape is his commitment to truth and justice. While it would be difficult to call him a “journalist” in the early years of “The Daily Show,” Stewart became not just a good journalist throughout his long tenure, but a legitimately great one, because he was able to maintain his trademark sense of humor, while also complementing it with hard facts and ugly truths about the American political system. His common-man approach also made him an incredible public speaker, having since used his enormous platform to fight for the rights of 9/11 first responders in front of actual lawmakers. All in all, Stewart is a one-of-a-kind talent, an inspiration to so many current and future journalists and talk show hosts, and we are lucky to have him.
By Patrick Nash
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