Jon Stewart is far from perfect, and it would be wrong to label him as that. The recent interview by former Daily Show writer and correspondent Wyatt Cenac is proof of that, and as a longtime admirer of Stewart’s, I’d love to see him face the criticisms head-on before the end of his tenure. I would like to believe he’s seen the error in his ways; his recent commentary on police violence and the Charlestown shootings, along with the amazingly pointed segments that Jessica Williams has done, make me want to believe that, but in this case it would be nice to hear from the person in question himself, rather than make assumptions based on a need to keep a media figure on a pedestal.
This isn’t to say that the tremendous good he’s done, particularly for the youthful, liberally geared zeitgeist, should be overlooked. He has become an integral figure for the comedy (news) media for nearly two decades, and he’s a voice that’s going to be missed and in ways that far outreach his comedy. Jon Stewart is funny in an easygoing, increasingly cynical way, but it’s never really been his comedy that’s been so engaging–at least in the past ten years. His audience is large, no doubt, but it’s the audience of high schoolers and college-aged individuals where his voice really mattered. It was one that didn’t speak down to their opinions, one that spoke largely about topics we and they cared about, and one that didn’t ever seem to want to bullshit, especially as he grew more and more weary about the weekly dose of tragedy that seemed to reign far and wide.
Once I became more politically/activist minded, once I realized that the term “feminism” wasn’t a dirty one but a liberating one, I began to appreciate voices like his more. His too was passionate, his too–despite the jokes–was angry, and while he skewed toward his Comedy Central audience, he rarely seemed to have as clear-cut an agenda as news media on both sides of the aisle. Trevor Noah has some mighty big shoes to fill.
Stewart should absolutely be held accountable for his mistreatment of Cenac; I would be a hypocrite of my own beliefs if I said otherwise. It was a human, defensive moment, sure, but it’s one that people often have that needs to be addressed. However, his voice and the good he has done for a generation, including myself, is something worth celebrating.
Check out an odd assortment of clips below of some of his finest moments. From his coverage of Donald Trump’s entry into the Presidential race, to his somber message after the massacre at the Charleston Church shootings, his messages are varied, and important, and worth listening to before his last show on August 6th.