Molière , the 17th century French playwright, once observed that “comedy alone can correct the vices of men.” Too bad he never watched The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. It turns out that the Comedy Central funnyman was just another flak for the Obama administration.
Politico reports that, “Obama aides took unusual steps to cultivate the Daily Show Comic.” Political brass like David Axelrod and Austan Goolsbee regularly fielded phone calls and emails from the President’s pet comic. And like a love struck teenager, Stewart sneaked off to the White House for a couple midnight rendezvouses in 2011 and 2014.
When Russian troops marched into the Ukraine in February 2014, the Secret Service ushered Stewart into the Oval Office to talk strategy with all the president’s men. The next night, Stewart unleashed a vicious barrage of attacks against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hilarious comedy, yes, but it was also brilliant politics.
Stewart’s wit made him a man of tremendous influence. Impressionable millennials make up almost 40 percent of his viewers, and many have cited him as the most credible name in news. Stewart’s wit also made him the perfect hired gun.
Though he built a brand as the equal opportunity a-hole of political satire, Stewart always reserved more barbs for Republicans. Sure, Stewart would occasionally whip MSNBC for its foolishness, but more often than not his real target was Fox News. And while he’d occasionally take aim at the Obama administration, he knew when to pull his punches.
Comedy probably won’t see another Stewart anytime soon. His comedic genius will be hard to match. But one can’t help but wonder, what if Stewart had really gone after everyone? How many laughs did he lose by telling canned-political jokes? How many vices went uncorrected?