The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | Welcome back, Jon Stewart

Photo courtesy of Flickr
Comedian Jon Stewart introduces Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during the USO Metropolitan Washington – Baltimore 37th Annual Awards Dinner on March 26, 2019.

Ever since Jon Stewart departed from “The Daily Show” in 2015, a massive New York thin-slice-flavored piece has been missing from the televised pizza pie. 

That tangy chunk of ooey-gooey ironic venom has been filled in the past month with the OG’s return, marking a massive upturn in the show’s ratings post-Trevor Noah’s departure in September of 2022.

Though Stewart’s brand of hoarsely-shouted political commentary can be off-putting and even downright antagonistic to some viewers, his return to the desk he occupied for 16 years is nothing short of wonderfully positive for fans of living in a democracy. 

From the very beginning of “The Daily Show” in 1999, Stewart was a pioneer of his craft, a sharp cutting blade in a phalanx of dull Clinton-era pundits. He led a one-show campaign against political double-talk along with a brilliant team of “correspondents,” many of whom are now wildly successful in their chosen fields. 

With this fresh no-nonsense approach to satirical skewering, Stewart’s show claimed many victims in its early run, including CNN’s “Crossfire” after he dealt a brutal on-air takedown to Tucker Carlson, ending his bow tie era forevermore. “Crossfire” was shortly canceled thereafter. 

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Now, in 2024, the political television landscape is wildly different. Stewart returns to the home screen amid a crowd of on-air satirists, many of whose crafts were directly inspired by the man himself. The question now isn’t whether Stewart still has the old magic — that much has been confirmed by the skyrocketed ratings of the past three Monday night “Daily Shows.” 

The question is whether America will still be as receptive to his no-holes-barred satire nowadays. In a severely polarized political climate, Stewart’s penchant for making fun of anyone and everyone could come across as infuriating and treacherous to both sides of the spectrum. 

There is massive value in having the most prestigious form of a loose cannon out on the airwaves once again, however. Stewart’s commentary isn’t solely meant to demean and criticize for the sake of wanton destruction.

For example, his past three targets have been decidedly ironic and deceptive enough to warrant a good bout of teasing. These have included Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump and President Joe Biden.

Stewart called out Carlson’s much-publicized trip to Russia and his apparent appeasement of Russia due to what he presented as their superior infrastructure and shopping plazas. The now-white bearded pundit turned Carlson’s news package on its head, however, when he reminded viewers that having nicer-looking train stations comes at the cost of a political voice.

He proceeded to show snippets of news clips covering the suppression of Russian protests following the death of Putin’s most outspoken critic, Alexei Navalny. 

Trump and Biden were Stewart’s next targets, and the host demonstrated the one truly optimistic ability of satire’s double-edged sword. In poking fun at the old ages of both candidates, Stewart managed to demonstrate that both sides of the American political spectrum can agree on one thing — the very likely prospect of a repeat 2022 election could not be more disheartening for the modern voter. 

There is a valuable lesson to be learned from Stewart’s balancing of cutting remarks towards Trump’s much-publicized legal misdeeds and Biden’s apparent lack of mental fortitude and youthful vigor. This fortitude and vigor are necessary to unite the country and provide a strong base against the Trump train. 

Stewart continues on this subject and steers the subject into a murky yet deeply profound space between realism and optimism. 

He emphasizes that no matter who wins the election, America will survive. The election is not the end of the world. In addition, America is not solely saved by the single executive in the Oval Office. The millions of blue-collar down-and-dirty workers who keep the country running are just as vital.

Stewart’s return to “The Daily Show” is a massively positive omen for political discourse in 2024. His ability to criticize anyone who needs cutting down has an inverse ability to pull both sides of the aisle together and realize that we really are all in it together as a nation.

No one wants a Trump-Biden rematch. But in his own words, a Jon Stewart second term is one we can all agree on. 


Aaron is a sophomore in Media.

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About the Contributor
Aaron Anastos
Aaron Anastos, Assistant Opinions Editor
Hello there, my name is Aaron and I’m a sophomore majoring in journalism. I joined The DI as an opinions columnist in fall 2022 and was honored to begin my stint as an assistant opinions editor in spring 2023. I love the opinions section especially because it gathers together so many interesting people with unique perspectives on the world. Outside of the DI offices, you can find me swimming laps at the ARC or happily writing at the Funk Library. You can reach me at my email below!
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