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Jon Stewart Is Anything But An ‘Honest Newsman’

Jon Stewart is no patron saint of the American political center, and he certainly isn’t an “honest newsman.”


Rolling Stone, which thought Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was the perfect dreamy cover model, thinks Obama muppet Jon Stewart is America’s last “honest newsman.” In an almost weepy goodbye to the comic-turned-apparatchik, writer Rob Sheffield says Stewart was America’s patron saint of political moderates:

Political satire, as Stewart defined it on The Daily Show, requires him to appear equally tough on the left and the right. But that means he has to pretend there’s such a thing as a moderate center. […] Though he often claimed he was just a comedian making jokes, he clearly relished his newfound role as the ballsy truth-teller puncturing the official lies of the day.

Last week, Politico reported that Stewart had been secretly summoned to the White House to meet with President Obama. One of the visits corresponded with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2014. Wouldn’t you know it? The very next day Stewart made fun of Vladimir Putin, using shirtless photos of the Russian president to mock his decision to invade Ukraine.

The news of the secret White House visits kicked off a media firestorm. Many took aim at Stewart for apparently tuning his show to match the White House’s desired frequency. Some have even accused Stewart of being a propagandist, which he has laughed off as preposterous.

Philip Wegmann explains how Stewart’s White House visits revealed serious cracks in the fake newsman’s centrist facade:

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. After 16 years behind the desk, Stewart is hanging it up. All but walking off the set arm-in-arm with Obama, after giving the president 20 minutes of softball questions.

Though we may never know to what extent his relationship with Obama influenced the content of his show, it’s fair to question how moderate he is and how fair he was to inhabitants on each ends of the partisan and ideological spectra. Jon Stewart is no patron saint of the American center, and he certainly isn’t an “honest newsman.”

Ironically, the Rolling Stone piece made no mention of Stewart’s secret trips to the White House, or of his frequent phone conversations with Obama. Instead Sheffield tells us that the end of Stewart’s reign on The Daily Show marks the end of America:

It’ll be an uglier world without Stewart — but then, that’s the main reason he’s bailing: It’s an uglier world already. So you have to suspect Stewart doesn’t care all that deeply whether The Daily Show can carry on without him. It looks like he’s more worried about whether America can carry on at all.

Don’t worry Rolling Stone, America will be just fine with one less pompous, preening propagandist on TV.