Jon Stewart: A tribute

August 6, 2015 marked the end of a satirical era, as 3.5 million viewers tuned in to bid adieu to beloved T.V. host Jon Stewart. During its sixteen year tenure, the Daily Show with Jon Stewart -a “fake news” broadcast on Comedy Central- shaped the way a generation consumed news. According to the Pew Research Center, The Daily Show (along with the Colbert Report) had the youngest audience of the top 24 major news sources, with 39 percent of its viewers being under the age of 30. By poking fun at the absurdity of the nation’s contemporary political landscape with his “Moment of Zen” Stewart drew in apathetic millennial viewers, enticing them with his quick wit and irreverence. Through comedy, Stewart persuaded a demographic notorious for its indifference to engage in the political process, in a way that no other news source- much less a comedian- had been able to accomplish. For evidence of Stewart’s cultural impact, look no further than the success of the show’s previous correspondents, several of whom have TV shows of their own now, including Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Steve Carrell, Ed Helms and Jessica Williams to name a few. He brought up a cohort of young talent, further shaping the media young people consume by using his no-nonsense, straightforward approach to make viewers laugh but to also make them angry about politician’s hypocrisy. Stewart fearlessly called out both Republicans and Democrats with righteous indignation; no politician or topic- from climate change, to banks to anti- vaccers and “legitimate rape” – were safe from his roasts. In a particularly bold episode, Stewart faced off with Judith Miller, the New York Times journalist who relied on faulty sources, linking Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction. “I believe that you helped the administration take us to like, the most devastating mistake in foreign policy that we’ve made in like, 100 years… but you seem lovely,“ he asserted. In another memorable interview with longtime nemesis Bill O’Reilly, the interviewee described Stewart’s viewers as “dopey kids” and “stoned slackers,” dismissing young people in a way that his generation tends to do. As is his trademark, Stewart was armed with a joke. “This election is going to rely on the undecided,” he replied. “And who is more undecided than stoned slackers?” Stewart used comedy to make politics interesting again, and through that, he made a generation better and sharper.