Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports that throughout Obama’s presidency, liberal comedian Jon Stewart was “summoned” to the White House for “secret...visits” with the president, an example of how the administration took “unusual steps to cultivate Daily Show comic.”
In the piece, Samuelsohn tries to soften Stewart’s far-left politics as merely being “center-left” mixed with a “populist streak heavy on fiscal responsibility, good government and fighting for the little guy.”
The Politico reporter goes on to promote how Obama’s meetings with the liberal comedian “speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.”
Samuelsohn never questions the appropriateness of Obama’s private meetings with the liberal comedian especially when he is known for his unwillingness meet with members of his own party and the press, and instead uses the meetings as an opportunity to promote Stewart’s allegedly powerful influence in the policymaking process:
As the White House recognized, Stewart can, at times, be a more potent influence on policy than Obama himself. The 52-year-old funnyman is widely credited with changing how the government treated military veterans and Sept. 11 first responders and for canceling a hyper-partisan CNN talk show. His broadsides against President George W. Bush’s Iraq war and a series of Obama missteps had a searing effect on how Americans thought about Washington.
Top Obama aides David Axelrod and Austan Goolsbee knew Stewart’s voice mattered and made sure to field calls and emails from the host and Daily Show staff.
Looking back on Stewart’s 16-year run, which ends with a final show next Thursday, Democratic and Republican officials, including many of the lawmakers and administration aides he’s routinely skewered, said in interviews there are plenty of identifiable marks where Stewart has made a difference.
Later in the piece, Samuelsohn eagerly quotes Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill who worries that the comedian’s departure will let Republicans off the hook:
“I’ll tell you some Democrats are worried,” said Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat who says she was motivated to write her first book with the hope of being a guest on his show — only to find out it’s coming out five days after Stewart goes off the air. “He’s done a great thing for us reminding young people why the Republican party is out of step.”
Despite the Politico reporter's desperate attempts to paint Stewart as merely “center-left” the only example he provides of the comedian attacking Democrats was the Daily Show host complaining that they expected Republicans to work with them in “good faith” on liberal issues like climate change:
Goolsbee said he would often wince at Stewart’s assaults on the Obama White House and Capitol Hill Democrats. He recalled one particularly tough January 2010 episode in which Stewart used a clip from the 1980s TV show ‘The Wonder Years’ to question why the Democrats ever expected Republicans to negotiate in good faith on issues from climate change to taxes to financial reform. “You’re just cringing,” Goolsbee said. “Oh God. I think the main thing that you’re hoping is you’re hoping in your heart of hearts he’s not right.”
While the piece is heavy on quotes from Democrats praising Stewart’s impact, the only Republicans included are Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) who had “never seen” the Daily Show, and former RNC chair and liberal favorite Michael Steele who had nothing but nice things to say about the show's political impact:
Steele explained that he would often hear from college Republicans while on the road asking if he had seen a Stewart clip, and that forced him to rethink GOP positions on a range of issues, from student debt and the job market for college graduates to gay marriage.
“I certainly in my efforts to expand the reach of the party made note of the fact there were things that were brought up and talked about on his show that we weren’t focused on that we should take a look at,” Steele said.