Jon Stewart isn’t getting a taste of his own medicine. He’s gargling a nectar of his own creation.
And, without a whiff of irony, he’s none too pleased about it.
Stewart supported the pandemic lab leak theory more than a year ago on “The Late Show,” confounding both host Stephen Colbert and Progressive Nation.
Don’t listen to comedians, we were (suddenly) told. Why would he put his credibility on the line to support a fringe theory, others cried?
His critics took the bit personally, understanding some may start to question the Official Narrative on a subject they deemed closed. He had betrayed the group by stepping outside the liberal bubble and flexing some common sense.
“Oh my God, there’s been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened?’ Like, ‘Oh I don’t know, maybe a steam shovel mated with a cocoa bean?’ Or it’s the f***ing chocolate factory.”
The blistering proved so shocking he’s still talking about it.
The subject came up again after the Department of Energy announced it, too, supported the lab leak theory along with the F.B.I., a gaggle of formerly banned scientists and a public exhausted by media lies on the matter.
Suddenly, Stewart realized America isn’t willing to embrace debate on contentious issues.
“The larger problem with all of this is the inability to discuss things that are within the realm of possibility without falling into absolutes and litmus-testing each other for our political allegiances as it arose from that … my bigger problem with that was I thought it was a pretty good bit that expressed kind of how I felt, and the two things that came out of it were ‘I’m racist against Asian people’ and ‘how dare I align myself with the alt-right.’”
The bigger question is clear.
Why is Stewart shocked by that response? Has he been hiding under a rock since leaving “The Daily Show” in 2015? What he faced is a microscopically small version of what’s happening across the culture.
Over and again.
Speak the “wrong” truth and you’ll be chased from polite society. Embrace free speech, a la Joe Rogan, and you’re a MAGA-hat wearing Trumpster. J.K. Rowling went from beloved author to pariah by deviating from part, but certainly not all, of the trans community’s agenda.
Dave Chappelle, the comedy GOAT, nearly saw his career collapse for telling jokes about the trans community.
And we have Stewart to partly blame for this corrosive mindset.
Stewart’s “Daily Show” reinvented satire for the modern age. The Johnny Carson model that endured for decades – hit both parties and do it with a smirk – got thrown into the circular file.
He provided a template for one-sided political satire, with several “Daily Show” alums literally following in his footsteps (Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, John Oliver). Stewart’s hard-Left model shredded anyone who disagreed with his world view.
They were Nazis, racists and more for not nodding along with every Stewart-like hymnal. Would this “Saturday Night Live” skit exist without Stewart’s handiwork?
That’s partially on Stewart and his legacy.
Does it matter if the new wave of hateful late-night hosts doubled down on his strategy? They learned it from watching him, and a corrupt media amplified their rage along the way.
Tribalized late-night is hurting America. Watch a steady dose of “The Late Show” and you’d have no idea how much President Joe Biden stumbles and bumbles his way through the White House. You’d never know Vice President Kamala Harris is the undisputed Word Salad Champion two years running.
No, instead, you’d be fed a steady diet of Fake News (Russian collusion, anyone?) and tortured headlines demonizing anyone to the Right of Sen. Bernie Sanders. The Stewart-ified comedy landscape can’t mock Biden, Harris or Mayor Pete, leaving it to guerrilla comics to pick up the slack.
is it any wonder your average Colbert fan wouldn’t mind seeing Fox News shuttered for good?
We can see this sentiment reflected in the current censorship wave. Progressives who once stood for free speech have little to say as famous authors find their words sent down the memory hole, comics get shadow banned for telling the “wrong” jokes and few journalists care enough to share what the Twitter Files revealed.
Of course progressives melted down when Stewart questioned one of their holy tenets, that COVID-19 sprang from a wet market (even though no one has the evidence to support that theory?). And they’ll melt down anew if Stewart says anything else that defies the progressive playbook.
The worst part?
Stewart has a golden opportunity to fix what he helped create. Apple TV+’s “The Problem with Jon Stewart” may boast a tiny audience, but he could use the platform to undo some of the damage he’s done over the years.
Instead, Stewart has used his “Problem” to double-down on those corrosive forces. It’s hardly the first time reality snuck up on the 60-year-old.
Last year, he simultaneously suggested Cancel Culture isn’t real and defended Chappelle from Cancel Culture attacks.
Stewart’s “Problem” won’t go away without a heaping helping of self-awareness. And an apology wouldn’t hurt.