Jon Stewart announced recently that he’ll be stepping down from his faux anchor chair bringing his 16-year career at the helm of “The Daily Show” to an end.
When he does, he’ll not only be remembered as a court jester in an increasingly bitter political arena, but as a voice of reason through which both the complexity and stupidity of government were made approachable.
It’s hard to imagine American politics without Stewart’s voice. He held comedic court for charlatans and fear mongerers nightly. He put politicians’ feet to the fire and let them make fools of themselves as they danced and jumped through the hoops of their own flawed logic.
Indeed, some of the most insightful and pointed interviews conducted after the Great Recession were on the set of “The Daily Show.” And his infamous appearance on CNN’s “Crossfire,” in which he pleads with the hosts to host an actual debate rather than debate theater, remains one of the best indictments of modern news media I have ever seen.
For many millennials, coming out of the Bush era with a feeling of powerlessness and distrust of government, Stewart became the voice of sanity. Despite him being a comedian, or possibly because of it, he knew how to throw the biggest punches and land them every time.
To clearly and concisely report on complicated aspects of government and society takes a tremendous amount of intelligence.
However, to be able to do so while turning it on its head and making an audience laugh four nights a week takes a certain genius.
As a 15-year-old kid, kicking and screaming my way through high school, “The Daily Show” was the first approachable avenue I had to actually learn something on my own accord.
“Religion. It’s given people hope in a world torn apart by religion.” -Jon StewartThough the language and broader concepts he talked about confused me at the time, Stewart tutored and mentored me every night from 11 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. teaching me to critically evaluate and question everything.
I shocked my parents with a newfound interest in reading nonfiction books on government, watching the news religiously and debating philosophy with anyone who would indulge me.
I suddenly wanted to learn concepts and join the grand debate that is American government. I had a personal renaissance of sorts, all tracing back to one night when I turned on “The Daily Show.”
I understand that it sounds incredibly silly. I’ve never met, or even seen, him. But, in a unique way, Stewart made everything digestible and kicked off a genuine hunger for knowledge that has lasted me through today. And it is that intrinsic drive that has carried me from being a high school student barely getting by to a soon-to-be college graduate in political science.
In different ways, everyone who watched and continues to watch “The Daily Show” gains a new perspective on how to view the world, and that’s something that will outlast even Stewart himself.
That being said, I’ll gladly volunteer my time pro bono on a Stewart ’16 campaign for president.