Jon Stewart is signing off as host of “The Daily Show” Thursday night after an iconic 16-plus-year run.
And though the wave of obituaries have highlighted his unique comedic ability to “destroy,” “slam,” “rip apart,” and more with political pundits, Stewart’s segments often had an immediate effect on the subject in the comedian’s cross-hairs. At times, he shaped public policy and dramatically shifted public opinion.
Here are six times “The Daily Show’s” coverage helped immediately change something.
9/11 First Responders Healthcare Bill
In late 2010, Stewart dedicated several segments to a stalled congressional bill to pay for healthcare for first responders of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. “The Daily Show” host railed against Republican lawmakers, who at the time were blocking a congressional bill because it was tied to a tax increase.
Stewart’s advocacy brought the issue into the spotlight. And it had an immediate effect: A little more a week after the comedian began covering the bill, the Senate reached a compromise.
Earlier this year, Stewart exposed a flaw in the Department of Veterans Affairs. In order to qualify for a program to allow veterans to seek care outside of the VA network, veterans waiting for operations needed to live more than 40 miles “as the crow flies” of a VA facility. After Stewart exposed how this rule was forcing veterans to wait longer to receive care, the agency changed its rules.
Though Stewart’s scrutiny kept some media figures on their toes, few journalists ever suffered more than a bit of embarrassment when they have found themselves in Stewart’s crosshairs.
This was not the case for former Bill Clinton speechwriter Paul Begala and Daily Caller founder Tucker Carlson. The show they hosted, “Crossfire,” was canceled in 2004 on the heels of an embarrassing grilling by Stewart, who asked the hosts “why they [were] hurting America?”
Jonathan Klein, who was then the president of CNN, told the New York Times in 2004 that he agreed “wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart’s overall premise.”
After the economic crisis of 2008, Stewart targeted CNBC host Jim Cramer for dismissing concerns about the health of the financial industry on the eve of the collapse.
Cramer served as the pinata for the rest of the financial media. He appeared on “The Daily Show” in an intense interview in which Stewart blamed him for failing to highlight warning signs that led to the financial collapse.
“Listen, you knew what the banks were doing, yet were touting it for months and months,” Stewart told Cramer in 2009. “The entire network was. For now to pretend that this was some sort of crazy, once-in-a-lifetime tsunami that nobody could have seen coming is disingenuous at best and criminal at worst.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio claims to be a real New Yorker, but some sceptics have their doubts, primarily based his truly unforgivable decision to eat pizza with a fork and a knife.
In 2014, Stewart showed the mayor how to eat pizza the correct way.
BONUS REEL: Fox News
Though no cable network was safe from Stewart’s mockery, Fox News was likely his favourite target. His criticism of Fox became the backbone of his show, and produced some of his most memorable moments, including a parody of host Glenn Beck and a list of 50 lies in six seconds.
Stewart undoubtedly helped harden the perception of the network on both sides of the political aisle.
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