Bidding adieu to Jon Stewart: No one can fill your shoes

Jon Stewart walked off the stage knowing how much he mattered, more than how much he’ll be missed.

Hayat Omer Malik August 09, 2015
This article does not even come close to paying tribute to probably the best newsman of our generation. Although he is an American through and through, he was always there to point out the flaws and contradictions his country is full of. He had no qualms in putting those contradictions in front of whoever he thought was responsible for them.

Over the course of the last 16 years, Jonathan Stewart Leibowitz, popularly known as Jon Stewart, did so much, not just for his country, but for the students of politics and journalism, and everyone interested enough in the fate of their nation, and for that, we will remain indebted to him for our lives.

Tony Burman of the Toronto Star wrote,
“The American cultural landscape will undergo a seismic change next week.”

Here are four reasons why.

1. No one to highlight the glaring media bias

Media anywhere in world harbours biased attitudes. Especially the opinionated individuals who are touted on television as experts, they are not necessarily experts and in most cases express their opinions based on presupposed outcomes, rather than scientific assertions or facts.

For 16 years, Stewart has been unarguably the most potent critic of this hypocrisy. His historic ‘takedowns’ of the jaundiced Fox News, the liberally driven NBC and the good for nothing CNN acted as checks on the previously limitless deceitful coverage of national and international events.

A watershed moment took place in 2004, when Stewart appeared on CNN’s Crossfire and argued how the host’s “partisan hackery” is hurting America. Less than three months later, Crossfire, television’s longest running political debate program at the time, was cancelled with CNN’s president saying,
“I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall premise.”

Who will be the force to galvanise journalists to perform better after his departure?

2. Weaker moral check on politicians

Stewart’s ability to first comprehend and then explain in the form of an informed judgment has always been his hallmark trait. He always debunked statements, ideologies, and notions on the basis of an analysis which was extremely balanced. If anyone claims otherwise, they should have a look at the epic interviews he conducted with the people who define the liberal left, a position blamed for being Stewart’s ‘own’.

As early as last week, even President Barack Obama didn’t escape his scathing criticism of the failures at the Department of Veterans Affairs and the ever increasing backlog.

3. Real issues won’t have real support

Putting a copy of the constitution in your pocket doesn’t make you a better American. In our case, sporting a beard doesn’t make you a better Muslim. Stewart was always ready to take up issues that the mainstream media ignored out of its race for ratings. His efforts to keep the debates going on for the First responders’ bill and the Veterans’ ACA  Act of 2014, issues that were overlooked by the media long ago, eventually resulted in the former getting passed and the latter getting tweaked within 12 hours of the show.

That it was a Stewart effect, is not at all debatable. In turn, many renowned political analysts and reform scientists advised viewers to watch more of ‘The Daily Show’ rather than the conventional media reporting in order to grasp a better understanding of the real issues.

4. Nonsense will be more nonsensical

If anything can sum up Stewart’s contribution to American politico-cultural landscape over the last decade, it is his ability to explain how nonsensical the nonsense is which comes out of the well-fed mouths of those who, unfortunately, matter in the lives of average Americans daily.

In 2003, Stewart was perhaps one of the few handfuls of hosts on television to openly denounce the invasion of Iraq. His intellectual deconstruction of the Iraq war, the flawed premise, and its outcome made his network news contemporaries sound as mere fifth graders in comparison.

Every week, Monday to Thursday, he was a staple of the daily news. The day wasn’t complete without Stewarts’s takedown of another politician or a network news anchor. Sometimes even his sighs were so hilarious that he didn’t require any joke to make the audience laugh. It all seemed effortless yet he gave his all.

I was only 17 when I first saw the show, at that time too, each word coming out of his mouth made absolute sense. Since then, I don’t know how many episodes I have watched, but a single thing hasn’t changed, his amazing wittiness never diluted the absolute clarity of his thoughts. His expressions not just made me adore him, but he also got me interested in politics and satire. His legacy will remain to be unique. Stewart transformed how his audience viewed the news and how the contemporary media presented it. He taught his viewers how to scrutinise the information they were receiving.

His two interviews with Malala Yousafzai will go a long way in explaining how Stewart as a man was much greater than what he appeared.

Last night, eventually he signed off amid less fanfare. His long time friend, Stephen Colbert sent him off with a heart warming message, which left Stewart, as well as his fans in tears. Not only were millions of viewers upset at Stewart’s departure, but even American politicians seemed to be saddened by this news. Most of them paid tribute to him, posting tweets regarding his retirement.

Despite his self-deprecating claims, Jon Stewart walked off the stage knowing how much he mattered, more than how much he’ll be missed. Perhaps this seismic change has a silver lining after all. #JonVoyage
Hayat Omer Malik The author is a civil services probationer, recently inducted in the Inland Revenue Service. He has a keen interests in politics, global power balance, economics, and social reforms. He tweets as @BardsAndTales
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


abhi | 6 years ago | Reply They best one is his interview of Musharraf.
guest | 6 years ago | Reply I, for sure, agree with you.
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