Column: Comedian or not, Jon Stewart is a cut above the news media

By Nolan Kraszkiewicz

I am fully aware I’m playing into the stereotype of the liberal-minded college student by saying this, but just like President Barack Obama, I think Jon Stewart is brilliant.

In Obama’s Rolling Stone interview, the president said: “I think Jon Stewart’s brilliant. It’s amazing to me the degree to which he’s able to cut through a bunch of the nonsense — for young people in particular, where I think he ends up having more credibility than a lot of more conventional news programs do.”

I could not agree more. Stewart’s comedic genius has impacted me as a person on a level that is only eclipsed by the late Christopher Hitchens.

The earliest recollection I have of “The Daily Show” is centered around 9/11. Much like everyone else, I remember that day for the images of the planes smashing into the towers, the horrendous fires and the buildings’ eventual collapse. However, I also recall the moving and emotional introduction Stewart gave on his first “Daily Show” after the attacks. It was in this episode that I developed such an affinity for Stewart. Since then, I’ve been drawn in by his whirlwind of comedic political satire, confronting the likes of Tucker Carlson on “Crossfire,” Jim Cramer and countless other public figures.

Stewart has often made remarks to the effect that if it weren’t for Fox News, he would easily lose more than half of the potential material for his show. Stewart has led the charge against Fox News, “the most powerful name in news.” By using the same exact tactics Fox News uses in their “reporting/commentary,” Stewart memorably demonstrated two salient counter-points:

1) Fox News’ hypocrisy in attempting to tie “Ground Zero Mosque” leader Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf to terrorism. In this clip, Stewart reveals how Fox would be considered a terrorist command center, using its flawed logic. Quite poetically, he uses a clip of a Charlton Heston National Rifle Association speech to solidify his point.

2) The second largest shareholder of News Corp., Fox News’ parent company, outside of the Murdoch family is Al-Waleed bin Talal, the very same shadowy figure who Fox News launched a (hypocritical) scare-tactics campaign against, also regarding the “Ground Zero Mosque.”

Stewart has been accused of demonstrating a double standard in his methods, attacking Fox News and CNN for shoddy journalism practices, while claiming himself to be a comedian first. While this critique is partly true, the fact that Stewart is first and foremost a comedian should not overshadow this man’s insightful, enlightening and brilliant work.

The comedic credentials of “The Daily Show” go without saying. But, in conjunction with this visceral and up-front humor, true moments of journalistic genius have emerged.

To accentuate this point, one of my all-time favorite “Daily Show” pieces, “Jason Jones: Behind the Veil — Persians of Interest,” demonstrated how the show’s writers can accomplish extraordinary feats of journalism without having to use CNN or Fox News as their punching bag. With this series, “The Daily Show” set the gold standard in its coverage of the Iranian Green Revolution, which is an achievement to be heralded.

Whether you lean to the right, the left or forward, it is impossible to deny Stewart’s tremendous influence with millennials. “The Daily Show” is billed as a satirical comedy news show but is certainly steeped in real-world implications. From classic hits like “Indecision” election coverage to “Mess O’Potamia” Iraq war coverage, the program remains consistently a cut above the rest.

So here’s to hoping Stewart extends his contract past the current 2013 agreement.

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