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One More Moment of Zen: A Jon Stewart Appreciation

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Author: jconway

As a millennial and a progressive who came of age during the dreadful Bush years, Jon Stewart was my lodestar, particularly during the period between 9/11 and the 2004 election. Those were the dark days when Bush was flying high, waging war with impunity, when even ‘objective’ journalists like Ted Koppel were misquoting Shakespeare and gleefully seeing off the hounds of war let loose. While other critics like Phil Donahughe were tkaen off the air, Jon stood alone as a critic on mainstream television-identifying the operation early as the ‘Mess’ o Potamia it was, and calling bullshit on the media’s rush to war.

A lot of progressive commentary has lit up regarding Jon as a champion of liberal values, in many ways, particularly on same sex-marriage, veterans benefits, holding Wall Street and our foreign policy accountable-he certainly was. In many other ways, I suspect he leans closer to the center-or at least pines for a politics of bipartisanship where reasonable people can have informative disagreements using the same set of facts and putting the people first. As cynical as he was, I suspect the cynicism was born from a deep seated idealism at the possibilities of American democracy if only the bullshit, lobbying, and spin cycle of the media would be driven off the scene.

From getting 9/11 First Responders medical treatment they would’ve likely lost, holding Glenn Beck and others to the fire, forcing Crossfire off the air, and introducing the world to Elizabeth Warren, Stewart has done an immeasurable service for comedy, satire, and yes, progressive engagement. Can’t wait to see what he does next.

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