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Did The Daily Show Just Go From Comedy to Activism? Jon Stewart, the Daily Show, and the 9/11 Responders Bill

It's time to reassess Stewart's continued pleas to consider him a comedian, rather than a journalist or some sort of political activist:


Now that Jon Stewart used his show to highlight the Republican hold-up of the 9/11 responders bill to such great effect that the bill has now passed, it's time to reassess Stewart's continued pleas to consider him a comedian, rather than a journalist or some sort of political activist:

Though he might prefer a description like “advocacy satire,” what Mr. Stewart engaged in that night — and on earlier occasions when he campaigned openly for passage of the bill — usually goes by the name “advocacy journalism.


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The Times cites Edward Murrow's fight against McCarthyism and Walter Cronkite's denunciation of the Vietnam War as the other moments in the history of advocacy journalism that had as much prominent effect as the 9/11 responders episode of The Daily Show. Whether you want to say that Stewart can be put into that category probably remains to be seen. While New York Mayor Bloomberg told the Times that Stewart was instrumental in getting the issue more attention, that seems not quite on the level of Cronkite causing a president to decide to not seek reelection.

What's more important is if and how Stewart continues down this path. As Brian Williams notes:

“Jon gets to decide the rules governing his own activism and the causes he supports and how often he does it—and his audience gets to decide if they like the serious Jon as much as they do the satirical Jon.”

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You have to imagine Stewart is going to give himself a hearty dose of self-ridicule for all the attention on his first show of 2011. If not, playing the comedian card may be a lot harder in the future.