The World Needs More Jon Stewart. Seriously.
For those of you who missed it, MSNBC’s Joy Reid took on Tucker Carlson for his repeated “race lady” jabs and in doing so, she reacquainted viewers with that one time Jon Stewart destroyed “Tuckems” on his then CNN show, “Crossfire.”
It was October 15, 2004 when the former host of The Daily Show appeared on Tucker’s show as part of a book promotion. But while he was there, Stewart couldn’t help but share his opinion of the program that claimed to be a debate forum with co-host Paul Begala. He not only told Tucker he thought his show was “hurting America,” but he also called him a dick. Stewart was right then and he’s still right today.
Little Tucker Carlson got canceled on MSNBC and humiliated by Jon Stewart when he worked at CNN. This explains a lot.
In case you missed it… pic.twitter.com/JEJTDcE6Hu
— Kate 🤍 (@ImSpeaking13) May 4, 2021
It was three months after that fateful and delicious October show that the CNN president and CEO announced that Crossfire had been fired — the show would be canceled and the network would cut ties with Carlson. We now know that the bowtie-wearing faux journalist was barely scratching the surface of societal destruction from his CNN post. The Fox News “bullshit factory,” as CNN’s Jim Acosta recently coined the network, would later give Carlson free rein to spew hateful and blatantly racist trash. The pretend news anchor spot on Fox gave him a platform to become one of the most divisive voices in cable news.
But Stewart held him to account and did not shy at all from expressing his disdain for both the anchor and the show’s format, which pitted extreme left and right views against each other and left no room for middle ground. And he was right — Carlson was hurting America then and he has continued to drive the knife into the heart of intelligent and thoughtful political discourse.
Stewart had a knack for recognizing the basics and bluntly explaining them to his viewers. He was also one of the smartest damn people who’ve ever been invited into our living rooms. In his 16-year stint at the Daily Show, he transformed a bunch of Gen X stoners who’d all but given up caring into intellectually curious, often well-informed masses. He delivered news packaged in the comfort soup of satire and, when it really mattered, he was the most honest person on TV. He was also one of the best people to sit on that side of the camera, which he’d prove in his relentless advocacy for 911 responders.
The combination of his mental acuity, humor and unapologetic honesty drew millions of viewers who were delightfully tricked into learning more about current events than 10 cable news shows could possibly impart. As much as Stewart deserves to live his best life however he sees fit, it’s impossible not to literally feel the void he left behind in 2015. In deeply divided times like this, when disinformation rules the day and discourse becomes warfare by default, we not just crave, but literally need the likes of Stewart to set us back on a course of curiosity, compassion and blatant honesty. He will return to a talk desk for an Apple TV+ show in the fall, so there is a little hope to restore some sanity, but it will only be available to the people who can afford to subscribe to the service.
Stewart should be freely available to the public because what he does is essentially a public service, and it’s one the world desperately needs right now.