The 7 Most Important Jon Stewart Clips That We'll Tell Our Grandkids About

August 6th 2015

Sarah Gray

It is neither unique nor particularly innovative to state that Jon Stewart had an impact on political discourse in our country—and on policy. Stewart radically changed the scope of "The Daily Show" when he took over hosting duties in 1999, fostered and launched incredible comedic talent (Steve Carrell, Larry Wilmore, Samantha Bee, Stephen Colbert, Ed Helms, Jessica Williams, and more), and ushered in a new landscape of comedic media and political criticism. (He was even summoned to the White House to hear pitches from President Obama!) Scores of people care about what Jon Stewart said on "The Daily Show"—whether for comedy, media criticism, political catharsis, or all of the above.

I know first hand: I was a "The Daily Show" recapper (and sometimes I still recap, just to keep my hand in the game). You've probably seen someone like me on many media sites: we summarized Stewart's work in a paragraph or two and shared his message with you, the reader. (In fact, Stewart poked fun at our collective bombastic headlines in his penultimate show.)

And while I'd always been a fan of Stewart and "The Daily Show," my appreciation grew during my time watching (re-watching) and writing up his quick jokes, his sharp points, and, yes, even his mistakes.

Stewart’s tenure as host spanned just four years shy of two decades. During his reign he covered the controversial first election of President George W. Bush in 2000 , 9/11, Bush's re-election, the election of Barack Obama, the second Obama election win, and everything in between.

And while his comedy often centered around slamming cable news—CNN and Fox News especially—and calling out political hypocrisy, he also spent time educating his audience, conducting in-depth interviews, and delivering some of the most stirring monologues. Here are some highlights from the past 16 years.

1. September 11, 2001

We're starting off on a somber note, but Stewart was often at his best when he was at his most vulnerable. Viewers watching his September 20, 2001 show saw this side of him, and this segment became an instant classic for its raw emotion during a time when we as a country were still in shock after the 9/11 attacks.

2. 9/11 first responders

When it came to the question of providing assistance to the police, paramedics, and firefighters who responded to the September 11 attacks, Stewart put his emotions into action, and some speculate that these segments on the prospect of federal funding got things kick-started in Washington.



3. The Charleston, South Carolina Shooting

This clip from just a couple months ago reverberated around the Internet because Jon Stewart got serious and spoke some very real truths about racism in America following the racially motivated killing of nine Black worshipers at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church in Charleston, South Carolina.

4. Ferguson, Missouri

Stewart had powerful words to say about the events that took place one year ago in Ferguson, Missouri, including the shooting of unarmed Black teenager, Michael Brown, and the unrest that followed. But sometimes, Stewart was best as a mere foil to his correspondents, like in this Ferguson-related segment with former correspondent Michael Che:

5. The grand jury decision regarding the killing of Eric Garner

This emotional Stewart clip resonated after a New York grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who killed Eric Garner.

6. The V.A. scandal

Stewart is great when he's taking the government to task over a major flaw (for example the failed launch of healthcare.gov). One of his best segments was when he discussed the scandals at the Veterans Administration, which was so slow that veterans died waiting to receive care.

7. And of course his incredible interview with Malala

You can't forget this one.