What Has Jon Stewart Really Accomplished?
Admittedly, yesterday’s Daily Show post got a little dark. Let me try to remedy that today.
The thing that surprises me most after 16 years is how seemingly humble Stewart is. Yes, he can be a raging, completely wrong asshole. And yes, he can show people how it’s done when he needs to. But those things seem to be in service of the show/ improvement of society. He seems to draw a major distinction between how highly he thinks of the show that he’s helmed for almost two decades, and how little he seems to think of his own abilities. And he plays up that aspect while looking back at all of the people and things he’s eviscerated over the years.
Clearly part of this is one final criticism of the way the media sensationalizes basic arguments. A topic he’s addressed before. It is lazy and misleading to equate one persons well researched, detailed refutation of another person’s position with hand-to-hand combat. But damnit it, “Jon Stewart Attacks Marco Rubio With (Word) Knives, And Slaughters His (Idea) Children” just get more clicks.
But the larger point seems to address the fact that there are still a ton of problems in the world, and those problems are shitty. While I’m sure Stewart is proud of his show, he’s also consistently presented himself as a news clown using funny voices, vulgarity and the occasional dildo to mock the powers that be. His work will not single-handedly save the world. And we’d be wise to not pretend that one man pointing out the problems is the same as fixing them.
That said, Stewart is selling himself short. Sure, he hasn’t solved the world’s problems, but he also hasn’t been tilting at windmills either. He has made some significant changes. Specifically:
— The Daily Show has won 18 Emmys and 2 Peabody awards.
— He individually won two additional Emmys for his producing role on The Colbert Report.
— Oh, right. He helped launch the careers of Stephen Colbert, Steve Carrell, Rob Corddry, Jason Jones, Samantha Bee, Wyatt Cenac, Jessica Williams, and a little guy known as John Oliver, among others.
— He revolutionized the way people get their information by becoming America’s Most Trusted Newscaster in 2009.
— He’s been credited with getting a 9/11 first responders health care bill pushed through Congress.
Clearly a lot of the issues that Stewart’s taken on over the years still exist. Some of them have gotten worse. But I refuse to believe anyone who says Stewart hasn’t done anything. Even when the person saying it is him.