I grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in a family that ritualistically watched ABC’s World News Tonight with Peter Jennings. I loved history and journalism, and ended up teaching high school level history. The calming, straight forward, no nonsense, nonpartisan news days have long since passed. With the advent and expansion of cable news, and the big money filing in, it’s incredibly difficult to find real, genuine news. As channels like Fox News went over-the-top conservative, stations like MSNBC had to hit back equally to the left. 16 years ago a phoenix rose over the garbage heap of the phony “real” news and gave us the greatest fake news show ever. 16 years after taking over for Craig Kilborn, Jon Stewart left The Daily Show last night, in perfect circumstances… as the Republicans were holding their first Presidential debates on Fox News.
The opening 25-minutes is maybe the greatest 25-minutes in cable TV history. It starts with the gag of covering the “not-yet-had-occurred-in-real-time” GOP debate, but only having three correspondents for the gaggle of 10 candidates in the main primetime debate. Needing help… well he got it. Suffice to say, if you’ve even dabbled in Jon Stewart’s craziness over the past decade and half, then you know some of the legit heavyweight stars who worked on his show. They ALL came back. ALL of them. The blockbuster movie stars (Olivia Munn/Ed Helms), the Oscar nominees (Steve Carell), the ones that spun off to their own shows (John Oliver/Larry Whitmore), the comedians (Lewis Black/Dave Attell) and so many more. It ended of course with his partner in crime Stephen Colbert, who spawned a highly successful Bill O’Reilly style “Faux Fox News” show, before getting the gig of replacing David Letterman on CBS’s Late Show. Colbert gave a near-tears Stewart a thank you on behalf of everyone, before a massive group hug took us to the first commercial.
Jon Stewart returned to take us on a behind the scenes tour of all the people who make the show happen, before warning us to beware the bullsh*t that we get from our supposedly “real news.” If you know Stewart, he became more and more the voice of the left, ruthlessly attacking Fox, O’Reilly, and the Republicans. But Stewart was more than happy to tear into anyone of any party, who presented the American people with BS over the past 16 years. He took over at the end of an embarrassing Clinton second term, sat through the 2000 election mess, and was given unending streams of BS by the Bush and Obama administrations. In his opening act, they even had some of frequent victims say farewell, including O’Reilly calling him a “Quitter” and John McCain calling him a “jackass.”
Stewart’s legacy will not be forgotten. The Daily Show will live on. In fact his successor, comedian Trevor Noah came to do final measurements, while Stewart was trying to continue his show. His last Moment of Zen was handing over to rock legend Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band for a performance of Stewart’s hand picked “Land of Hopes and Dreams.” Springsteen then burst into his classic “Born to Run,” and the show ended with Stewart and ALL his friends sharing the stage like they had GA tickets to Bruce’s gig. To kids who came of age under Clinton, Jon Stewart was their Peter Jennings. He was mine, and he will be missed.
P.S. Studies have shown that his “fake news” program actually helps people learn more about the actual news than either Fox News or MSNBC.
You can rewatch Jon Stewart’s final Daily Show episode on comedycentral.com or On Demand. Trevor Noah takes over next month.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart – 8/6/15 in: 60 Seconds
During Jon’s final episode of The Daily Show, he encourages viewers to fight against bulls**t, gets a sincere message of thanks from Stephen Colbert and says one last goodbye.