There’s probably gonna be a lot of reminiscing about Jon Stewart ahead of his last show tonight, but I was trying to conceptualize what I think he meant to my generation since he was mostly aimed at my age range.
He was certainly funny at times. He certainly set the stage for many other great comedians. And there’s a sense of comfort knowing he was always going to be around to comment on this or that at 11 PM on Comedy Central. His post-9/11 monologue is quite beautiful and even though it wasn’t part of The Daily Show, his stint on Crossfire is an all-time great political television moment.
However, I think over time, TDS itself, as anchored by Stewart, became the thing it set out to dissuade its viewers from: the establishment. It was merely a different form of establishment (basically, it just involved more dick jokes).
Some of that is confirmation bias, i.e., the ragging against Fox News, W. and the Republicans at large, although he certainly took his shots at MSNBC, CNN, President Obama, and other Democrats.
And some of it was that Stewart perhaps just wasn’t as “biting” as I would have liked. His grilling of Judith Miller on the Iraq War and the Congress over 9/11 responders certainly stands out, however.
All in all, though, whether I always agreed with him or not, I think it’s invaluable to have that jester position, the guy or girl that says, “This is all fucking stupid.” I just think, over time Stewart eventually became subsumed into the very thing he would have ostracized when he started out.
Finally, we’re in good hands with John Oliver. He’s doing really important work on issues that don’t see the light of the day often.