Without doubt, Jon Stewart is a well-known former stand-up comedian who has crafted a unique brand of humor grounded in mostly political satire and social criticism. The Daily Show is a top-rated commentary and interview program that is popular among the younger news watching set, and it undoubtedly serves as a source of "news" for many. And among politicians and other news commentators, Stewart is hard to ignore. Yet, occasionally his commentary - especially when it seems to depart from his own ideology and criticizes Democrats and social programs - becomes fodder for the right-wing who declare that when "even Jon Stewart" criticizes the issue, it must be bad.
Stewart takes exception to this caveat, and regularly reminds people that he is "on the Comedy Network" and he is "just a comedian." This back-and-forth banter has been front and center in recent weeks, as the Affordable Care Act comes under fire for huge problems for people seeking to enroll via the government's website. In response to the media using his criticism as "evidence of failure" of the ACA, Stewart has responded harshly. However, some are not willing to let Stewart off the hook so easily, even as we laugh at his response to a call for owning up to responsibility. To the issue, Elias Isquith calls out Stewart in a piece for Salon.com, arguing "Sorry Jon Stewart: You're Not Just a Comedian." Isquith argues - with reasonable credibility and criticism - that Stewart is not simply another late night joke teller in the vein of Leno or Letterman or O'Brien. And that much seems obvious. Whether Isquith is correct or not, this issue is not new. For, any Stewart fan must recall his infamous pleading with the overmatched hosts of CNN's Crossfire during the 2004 Presidential campaign.
Stewart made many logical claims - and was wildly entertaining even if he didn't mean to be. Since the earliest days of The Daily Show, Stewart has been mining the political world for the richest of humor via satire and scathingly sarcastic criticism. However, the presence of a sharp political mind with a clear agenda has always been clear. So, what is it: comedian or political commentator. Or both. Or neither.
Maybe we should ask Bill O'Reilly: