A go-to personality in the wake of the Trump victory over Clinton has been Jon Stewart, former host of The Daily Show, and alleged progressive icon. Yes, Jon Stewart took Fox News to task for years for their not-so-covert bias, despite their claims of being fair and balanced, and, yes, Jon Stewart made a us all laugh at the incompetence of CNN and their gimmicks. But, when the chips were down, where was Jon Stewart? When the Democratic Party absolutely must make itself accountable to the progressive left and the people it purports to represent, what is Jon Stewart’s $0.02 really worth, and why are we even asking him?
Jon Stewart first mentioned Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid in April of 2015, then did a segment about his campaign on his show on May 28th. The video is posted at the Comedy Central YouTube channel, here. In it, he rightly skewered the idiotic commentary of pundits and the news media that disparaged the launch of his campaign. But, what followed after that?
Despite Stewart’s claim of being a progressive voice, and despite Bernie Sanders being all but synonymous with the progressive movement within the Democratic Party, Stewart proceeded to have Sanders on zero times between April 30th, 2015 and his retirement from The Daily Show on August 6th, 2015. Which political personalities did he have on in that time?
First, there was Edward Moniz on May 6th, who, as the Secretary of Energy famously had nothing to say about the Keystone Pipeline, who is a big proponent of so-called clean fossil fuel energy, and much of whose research has been funded by oil companies. Establishment. Next, there was Rand Paul on May 26th. Establishment, with a largely irrelevant voice and a career of mixed messages. Then came Stanley McChrystal, on June 1st, who has publicly praised Clinton and stated on record that he will refuse to serve in any capacity for Trump. Establishment. Bill de Blasio followed on the very next day, June 2nd. De Blasio waves the progressive banner, but endorsed Clinton over Sanders. Establishment or afraid, take your pick. On June 8th, Nicola Sturgeon, a Scottish Nationalist, came to discuss Scotland’s vote on whether or not to secede from the UK. While I am not that informed about Scottish politics, Sturgeon appears to be pretty well to the left. Did Stewart really have to look as far as Scotland to find a progressive?
On June 17th, Stewart played host to Bill Clinton. Mr. Neoliberal, himself. Establishment as establishment gets. A bane to progressives. He also happens to be the husband of 2016’s most establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton. Shortly thereafter, on June 22nd, Stewart had Al Franken stop by. Franken was one of many senators to endorse Clinton. Despite a lot of leftist rhetoric early on in his career (which has been moving steadily rightward), this guy is establishment. Next was Kirsten Gillibrand, on July 1st, a Blue Dog Democrat. The Blue Dogs aren’t merely establishment — they’re openly conservative. She also happens to be the junior senator from New York, appointed to fill that position when Clinton vacated it to become Secretary of State. Another endorser of Clinton. On July 21st, Stewart had Barack Obama stop by. I’ll leave the discussion of Obama’s Wall Street presidency to Brother Cornel West; there’s not much more that needs to be said.
So, there you go. Jon Stewart talked a good game, but then proceeded to line up establishment politician after establishment politician to be guests on his show. Zero progressives to represent the American left, not even Bernie Sanders, who certainly would have been just fine for ratings. This seemed glaring to me at the time, and it just makes me even more irritated to see the media turning to Stewart for his opinion today. I think he made his opinion loud and clear by his choice of guests back when he had the chance to shape the conversation. It’s easy to make fun of Fox News, to belittle CNN, and to do comedic send-ups of every dumb thing politicians say, but when the chips were down, the only politicians allowed into the building were the voices of the establishment. That was not an accident.