I only just found out about Jon Stewart’s decisions to retire from The Daily Show tonight. I realize many of you have probably already heard about this. I don’t need to be the one to tell most of you that we have been lucky to have him on television since 1999. The Daily Show has been a place we could go to laugh and remain sane in these years of insanity. Not only is his own contribution tremendous, but without him we would have never had The Colbert Report. I have only seen one episode of The Nightly Show, but hopefully that and whoever takes Stewart’s spot will keep this kind of truth telling comedy going.
I think the most important thing Stewart is done is helped people decode the bullshit that is cable news. It’s true that many people before Stewart knew that something in our media wasn’t right, but sometimes it helps to have someone that can adequately verbalize what you feel. Night after night he was not only able punch through the mask of talking head absurdity, but provide people with the tools to do it themselves.
Why is it that, so often in our society, comedians are the only ones that can get at the truth? If we had a mainstream news media that was actually doing its job, Stewart wouldn’t have been needed. However, many of us unfortunately know that he, or someone like him, was needed. Because he could do what he did through humor, he was able to get away with things that others could not. One of my favorite quotes, that I have probably used too frequently here is Oscar Wilde’s quote, “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
Hopefully there will come a time when someone like Stewart isn’t needed, when we can actually trust television media to give us an accurate picture of what is going on in the world. I don’t think that time will be soon though. In the meantime, lets be glad that he was able to slip unnoticed through the gates, in this kingdom of madness.
Above is Jon Stewart’s famous Crossfire appearance. Crossfire was a show on CNN. It was a typical cable news program where you would have one rightwing pundit and one leftwing pundit debating the issues, without any kind of real insight give. There also was no weight given to either argument, letting the viewer know if one or both were at all rooted in fact. Jon Stewart went on and at the time did the unthinkable: He told the truth about why this kind of show was so meaningless. Crossfire didn’t last much longer.