Politics

Petition for Jon Stewart to Moderate Presidential Debate

August 20th 2015

By:
Eitan Arom

The 16-year arc of Jon Stewart’s career transformed him from a comedian into something more serious: a voice for millions of watchers shocked into laughter by the dysfunction of American politics.

Now, nearly 100,000 people want to see Stewart orchestrate a debate between the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates.

“Jon Stewart is more than qualified to tackle the moderating job,” the Change.org petition reads. “Mr. Stewart has interviewed 15 heads of state, 22 members of the United States Cabinet, 32 members of the United States Senate, 7 members of the United States House of Representatives, and scores of other political leaders.” Stewart has interviewed President Barack Obama seven times, and he was even invited to the White House to weigh in on policy.

 

The petition asks the Commission on Presidential Debate, the non-profit organization that sponsors national contests, to allow Stewart to host one of the three debates.

It cites two Peabody Awards that Stewart’s “Daily Show” won for its coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.

“Clearly you all put yourselves in actual danger and go to the places,” he told a roomful of actual journalists at the 2004 award ceremony. “I cannot tell you how much a green screen would save you time and effort."

He went on to thank “all the people who work so hard at ‘The Daily Show’ to approximate news.”

Stewart’s show brought a golden age to the genre of comedy news, a style first pioneered by “Saturday Night Live.”

“Choosing Jon Stewart would be a popular choice among voters,” the petition reads.

As early as the 2004 campaign, 21 percent of people aged 18 to 29 got their news from “The Daily Show” or “SNL,” according to CBS.

“Over the last 16 years, Jon Stewart has played an influential and iconic role in covering US politics and media,” the petition says.

Stewart filmed his final, nostalgia-packed episode of “The Daily Show” earlier this month, with appearances from former correspondents such as Stephen Colbert:

It’s worth noting the show launched Colbert as a presidential personality of his own: the former “Daily Show” talking head took a (satirical) run at the office in 2008.

Before leaving his ergonomic office seat—at the top of comedy news—12 percent of Americans say they got their news from him, according to Pew Research Center. But he’s far from a bipartisan character, with 45 percent of liberals saying they trust the show compared to 1 percent of conservatives.