The Force is With Him

Published: February 27, 2015

By Jim Lichtman
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While Jon Stewart may have announced his retirement from Comedy Central’s Daily Show later this year, he will not go quietly into anyone’s good night.

jon-stewart

Among those who will not be morning Stewart’s passing is Fox News host Megyn Kelly who recently said, “I don’t think overall he’s been a force for good. Because I think especially in his later years he got a little nasty. I think he got a little burnt-out. And I can speak personally to a lot of the attacks that were levied on me, had no foothold in the facts.”

Ohhhh Megyn, never underestimate the power of The Force.

On Wednesday’s show (Feb. 25), Stewart said, “I challenge you, Fox News, to a lie-off: Your distortions and lack of fact footholds against mine.”

With that, Stewart ran a six-second clip of 50 lies – whoops, excuse me, Megyn, “misstatements of fact.” Among them: Sarah Palin’s statement that Obama’s healthcare plan includes “death panels” (Aug. 7, 2009); The View’s Elisabeth Hasselbeck stating that a “Census worker admitted she lied to lower unemployment rate” (Nov. 19, 2013); and New York’s finest, Donald Trump (don’t laugh, he may be running in 2016), when he said “Obama’s New York fundraising trip cost between $25-$50 million” (Oct. 14, 2014).

You can go to the show’s website, run the clip and stop on any one of them to read the citation of date, subject and individual.

In bidding farewell to Stewart, that bastion of conservative values, Rush Limbaugh said, “Jon Stewart has helped polarize the country by poisoning the Republican brand.”

“Poisoning the Republican brand?” Stewart asks. Then, in typical Stewart fashion, he ran a series of clips detailing just a few of the “best” of Limbaugh’s factually absurd, “excellence in broadcasting” statements, like this gem on women who protest against sexual harassment: “They’re out there protesting what they actually wish would happen to them sometimes,” (April 26, 2004); and this, regarding actor Michael J. Fox, diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, of “exaggerating the effects of the disease” during a campaign commercial the actor filmed endorsing Missouri Democratic Senate candidate Claire McCaskill: “…moving all around and shaking,” Limbaugh mimics for an in-studio camera, “it’s purely an act… Either he didn’t take his medication or he’s acting, one of the two,” (October 23, 2006).

After announcing his retirement from a show that he’s clearly put on the map with his special brand of keeping-them-honest, Stewart confessed to TIME magazine, “Take it from someone who’s been watching what they do for a blessedly almost over 16 years or so,” he said. “Their chronically angry war for ideological purity, where every aspect of life becomes a two dimensional battle for America’s soul—it ages you. Even watching it is killing me.”

Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless said “[Stewart’s] comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come.”

In an industry that regularly over-hypes everything from cars to Kleenex, Jon Stewart is exactly as he appears to be: smart, funny, disarming and direct. When he’s been wrong, he admits it. While he’s at his best when he mocks others by using their own words, he can also turn on a dime and mock himself.

Responding to Fox’s Megyn Kelly, Stewart said, “We don’t lie; we don’t distort. We actually have a fellow who works in the building who uses every fiber of his being to prevent us from doing so,”

We need more Jon Stewarts; individuals who are smart, funny and substantive; people who can hold the mirror up to America and show us how to laugh at our own ridiculous imperfections. I, along with millions more, can’t wait to see where Jon Stewart aims that 100,000 watt talent next.

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