Sneering Jon Stewart Mocks: ‘When Was America Great?'

A sneering Jon Stewart on Monday wondered, “When was America great?” The former Daily Show host appeared with David Axelrod at the University of Chicago and mocked conservatives. Connecting Donald Trump to the right, the comedian lectured, “He makes sense if you view it through the prism of talk radio.... Republicans, conservatives love America. They just hate, like, 50 percent of the people living in it.” 

On the subject of political correctness, Stewart dismissed, “When was America great? What is this time that he speaks of? ‘81 to ‘82? Like, what are we talking about? And who took your country away from you?” 

“Who's country is it? Take up the argument with the Founders. Take it up with the Age of Reason. All men are created equal. That's fucked the whole thing up.” This was proceeded by Stewart’s attempt to seemingly explain the good and bad kind of political correctness:  

JON STEWART: And the trigger points to me seem to be on one side grounded in a certain reality of life that only those with no experience or empathy to what those with individuals are going through or having and the other seems to be a clinging to a societal paradigm that just doesn't exist anymore and probably never did. 

Of course, this is the same person who joked about Dick Cheney’s “torture boner” and called the late Robert Novak a “vampire demon.” So, clearly, venom is okay some of the time. 

The introduction was typical of the fawning praise Stewart gets from liberals. Student Jenny Keroack compared the comic to Shakespeare: “I wrote my application essay comparing Jon to a Shakespearian fool in both the ability to speak truth to power and his position as interpreter and voice for the audience.”  

A partial transcript is below: 

The Axe Files: Jon Stewart
5/9/16

JENNY KEROACK (University of Chicago): I wrote my application essay comparing Jon to a Shakespearian fool in both the ability to speak truth to power and his position as interpreter and voice for the audience. That comparison might not make much sense to anybody who didn’t send every summer at Shakespeare Camp. Thanks, mom and dad. But, I think we all know how Jon Stewart made us feel when we saw him skewer the news. We felt smart and we got the jokes. We felt understood when Jon articulated the things we had been thinking. We felt catharsis. 

...

DAVID AXELROD: How responsible is the media for Donald Trump? 

JON STEWART: Listen, I don’t necessarily believe that a full court press on his untruth-ness would necessarily change it. He was voted for. But I do think, generally, he is the conclusion of years of —  He [Donald Trump] makes sense if you view it through the prism of talk radio. I like to drive and, so, I listen to talk radio and it is 24/7 of your country is being taken away from you. As far as I can tell, the conservative side, or the right side, they feel an ownership over America. They are the stewards of America. They are its forbears — exactly. Republicans, conservatives love America. They just hate, like, 50 percent of the people living in it. So, in general — 

AXELROD: Isn’t part of their concern that that 50 percent is becoming — or whatever percent — is becoming a greater — we’re becoming a much more diverse country? 

STEWART: Sure. So, nativism. It’s not as though this is inherent to this country as well. Globalism has created this strange push back throughout the entire world. You see a lot of countries retreating into nativism, into that type of really, like —

AXELROD: In fact, there are Trump-like characters all over Europe in different counties. 

STEWART: Yes. Yes. I don’t know if you ever saw Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Very similar — But no, in some ways it’s a natural reaction to fear. Now, if you have that fear stoked on a daily basis on an incredibly high pitch. And this is not, “We really need to do something about this country. We’re facing some difficult problems.” This is, “You are run by a tyrant. He is going to take away your rights. We are falling. There are rapists and murderers at the border coming to kill you.” If that’s what you’ve been fed and that’s what you’re buying into, Donald Trump makes more sense than anyone out there because he’s going, “Let’s build a — the Visigoths are at the gate and let’s build a fucking wall.”         

...

[On political correctness and Trump.] 

STEWART: The idea being, Muslims, “Hey, man. All he’s saying is they’re evil and shouldn’t be allowed in this country.” He's just telling it like it is." But God forbid you say happy holidays in December, it’s fucking war. So, who is it, exactly, who’s sensitive here? We’re only talking about what are the trigger points. And the trigger points to me seem to be on one side grounded in a certain reality of life that only those with no experience or empathy to what those with individuals are going through or having and the other seems to be a clinging to a societal paradigm that just doesn’t exist anymore and probably never did. When was America great? What is this time that he speaks of? ‘81 to ‘82? Like, what are we talking about? And who took your country away from you? 

AXELROD: Yeah. Yeah. 

STEWART: Who’s country – Who’s country is it? Take up the argument with the Founders. Take it up with the Age of Reason. That's --- All men are created equal. That’s fucked the whole thing up. 

Tell the Truth 2016

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the associate editor for the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org site.