Jon Stewart’s Latest Move Signals How Desperate Democrats Are Getting Ahead Of The Election

(Photo by Brad Barket/Getty Images for Comedy Central)

Gage Klipper Commentary & Analysis Writer
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Unsatisfied to sit out the 2024 election on the sidelines,  Jon Stewart is returning to “The Daily Show.” It’s more than just pathetic for an aging, washed up comic to mount a halfhearted comeback. It’s a sign of desperation that the Democratic Party machine needs him back in the fold.

Love him or hate him, Stewart is undeniably a comedy icon. Over 16 seasons on “The Daily Show,” he created the hyper-political comedy routine that skewered the political establishment with biting sarcasm. While mostly aiming at the right, he could often be quite funny and occasionally even-handed. Now, however, his shtick serves as the boilerplate formula for every late night “comedian,” who all now lean decidedly further left. From his direct protegee Stephen Colbert, to his painfully unfunny inheritor Trevor Noah, to even the once-funny Saturday Night Live alumni who dominate the late night slot today — all follow in Stewart’s footsteps making progressive politics the central theme of their routine.

Stewart’s real innovation comes from replacing thoughtful and nuanced political commentary with snarky retorts and one-liner smack downs,  laundering left-wing politics under the guise of incisive comedy. Politically unsavvy viewers got the best of both worlds: political insight that was fun and accessible but that simultaneously convinced them they were smarter-than-average for watching and agreeing. Stewart single-handedly turned late night comedy into MSNBC for people who don’t have the attention span for any information that doesn’t come with a punchline. In doing so, he brought more low-information, apolitical people into a friendly orbit for Democrats.

Stewart has certainly paid his dues in the entertainment industry, with 22 Emmys to show for it. After deciding it was time to amicably move on from “The Daily Show,” he went on to several flops. His 4-year deal with HBO fell apart before it ever took off, and his show on Apple TV, which you probably didn’t even know he had, got cancelled in 2023 after only two seasons. There’s no reason he needs to do this again. He’s a wealthy man and can just ride off into the sunset and enjoy the legacy of his storied career. (RELATED: Jon Stewart Returns To Hosting ‘The Daily Show’ … But There’s A Catch)

Yet beginning on Feb. 12, Stewart will once again be hosting “The Daily Show” every Monday evening, while a rotating line-up of comics will fill in the rest of the week. It’s likely no coincidence that Stewart is returning to his roots —  the most culturally impactful moment of his career  — just as the 2024 election heats up in earnest.

“Stewart is the voice of our generation, and we are honored to have him return to Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show’ to help us all make sense of the insanity and division roiling the country as we enter the election season,” said Chris McCarthy, CEO of Showtime/MTV Entertainment Studios.

“In our age of staggering hypocrisy and performative politics,” he continued, “Jon is the perfect person to puncture the empty rhetoric and provide much-needed clarity with his brilliant wit.”

Yet the “clarity” he will provide will surely be the same smug, shallow commentary he is known for. In fact, it’ll be worse. Always reliably liberal, Stewart has now become one of the countless victims of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

He’s been beating the same drum since 2016, when returned briefly as a guest to Comedy Central to call Trump a “tax- and draft-dodging little orange groundhog.” He’s called Trump every name in the book, from “man-baby” to “demagogue,” saying his “shamelessness” is what makes him “dangerous.” He chastised CNN after its Trump town hall event for giving the former president a platform to speak on his own terms. Like the rest of the ideological commentariat, Stewart relishes having his opponents silenced — but will sell you the idea under the guise of comedy. You’re supposed to laugh along as Democrats destroy democracy in order to “save” it.

Stewart likely thinks he can make a difference in the 2024 outcome by returning to the show. In part, he likely just wants in on the action; his TDS makes him believe it would be immoral to not do his part to stop Trump’s return. But it’s also likely part ego. He’s stuck in his glory days, and believes he is the one person with the enduring cultural footprint who can resonate with the American public in ways other late night hosts can’t.  (RELATED: Apple, Jon Stewart Part Ways Thanks To Coverage Of China: REPORT)

People will certainly tune in, both out of nostalgia and a desire to see him skewer Trump in trademark fashion, but he’s unlikely to have the same appeal he used to. Endless comedy careers have been built on roasting Trump over the last eight years, and there’s not much new that Stewart can bring to the table at this point. He’ll merely be one extra voice in the echo chamber, and is unlikely to mobilize the Democratic base any more than they already are. What’s he going to do? Call Trump a Ultra-Double-Dog Dictator?

Further, his once powerful anti-establishment charm won’t work when he’s now aligned with every other power center in American life. It’s hard to come off as subversive when you’re in the tank for the party that holds nearly all of the political, legal and cultural power in America. He’s unlikely to bring anyone new into the fold this way as he did in the 2000s. Older generations still love him but Gen Z, the most critical demographic for Democrats to mobilize, will just view him as some old guy.

And certainly everyone knows this — even TIME Magazine admits that his return is a “bad omen” for the future. Yet the Democratic-media ecosystem is so desperate they don’t know what else to do. Biden is flailing in the polls, deeply unpopular on nearly every single issue and even most Democrats fear he’s too old to handle the job for another four years. The progressives are in open revolt over his stance on Israel and all of the key minority and youth demographics are starting to flee. The fail safe plan to take out Trump through lawfare seems to be backfiring as well. The man Democrats promised their base would never set foot in the White House again now appears likely to win in November.

With no good options, Democrats are pinning their hopes on a washed up comic making a last hoorah.