Okay, so not personally, just his show The Daily Show and thousands of other political talk/”news” shows. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll just say that I’m no fan of The Daily Show or Crossfire. I feel like both programs do more harm than good to American political thought. Much like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity or just about any completely biased talk show, they are probably about 80% entertainment and 20% information (yes, I’m trying to be generous).
On October 15, 2004, Jon Stewart appeared on the CNN talk show Crossfire. He and Anderson Cooper were clearly at odds with one another and continuously sniped at one another back and forth. Jon’s point, which was a good one, was that Crossfire is hurting American politics by camouflaging partisan hackery as honest debate. Anderson’s point was that Jon had the opportunity to ask John Kerry some real questions and didn’t. Anyway, you can see it here: http://www.contemporaryinsanity.org/content/view/17/2/
My point comes from the part where Anderson accused Jon of being too friendly with Kerry, the opposite of how he’d been with Republicans. Jon responded to the accusation that his time with Kerry had been wasted with “the show that leads into me is a hand puppet making phone calls”. His point was that he was a comedy program and he had no responsibility to do anything serious. Crossfire, on the other hand, did have that responsibility and was shirking.
Anderson’s response was nothing noteworthy. It was clear he hadn’t expected that. What he should have said, though, was “Exactly! You are led into by a hand puppet. Your program is couched between the most ridiculous of shows. Yet, you pretend to understand how a real news program ought to work and you come here and tell me how to do my job?!”.
You see, Jon was in a slippery place when he criticized another program. Not that his criticism wasn’t right; it was. But he wasn’t in any place to be able to criticize.
The Daily Show (TDS) caters to a young audience, typically 18-34 year olds. In fact, in a national survey, 43% of that target demographic cited TDS as their primary news source. So, while Jon would like to shirk any and all responsibility to report in a fair and unbiased way by saying his lead-in show is a sock puppet, he just doesn’t have that luxury. The size of his audience has stripped him of that.
Now, to be fair, Jon does a pretty good job of being unbiased. He makes fun of the news media and politicians on both sides of the aisle. But that’s where the problem is. Instead of creating an army of politically aware young people, he’s creating an army of cynical people who don’t believe in politics or the government because all they see are snapshot-in-time caricatures of politicians. Remember, 43% of 18-34 year olds cite TDS as their primary news source.
So, Jon Stewart really has no room to criticize anybody for shirking their responsibility to American politics because the beam in his eye far outweighs the mote in Anderson Coopers.