I am a mostly conservative and I have been an avid Daily Show fan for many many years. I disagree with a lot of Jon Stewart's liberal political views but have had a great deal of respect for him and those views. I try my best to keep an open mind when he expresses his opinions because he is an intelligent and dignified man. I have always admired the respect he has shown toward his guests that he disagrees with. He is not afraid to disagree with them openly, but it always ends up being a respectful dialogue about two opposing views and I always end up learning a lot. It is a breath of fresh air in a political world that favors anger and name-calling over open-mindedness and civility. His "news clips" and segments are often harsh but that is just part of the comedy format. I can accept that.
But this week I became very disappointed in him.
On Tuesday his guest was John Bolton, the former US Ambassador to the UN. There has been much controversy and general dislike for this man. Previously, Jon Stewart has been very clear about his negative feelings toward him. So it was quite shocking that Mr. Bolton would come on the show at all. Jon handled the interview with his usual dignity. It was a civil debate and Jon was more than respectful to Bolton. Both sides obviously disagreed with each other but there were no raised voices and no mud slinging. It was a very interresting debate that I wish I could have heard more of because it left me with so many questions. I raved to my husband about how this was the kind of debate we need to hear more often and how Jon is a great man to enable that kind of discussion.
Then the next night he forced me to eat my words. The opening credits had barely finished when Jon launched into a bit of a tirade again Jon Bolton. He picked apart the interview and criticised and ridiculed Bolton. And I lost a lot of my respect for him. How is that any better than ridiculing him during the interview? He never had any respect for the man he just pretended to during the interview. Why? That comes across to me as inauthentic and cowardly.
I haven't completely given up on Jon. Maybe he had a bad day. Maybe he was authentic in the interview but went home that night and replayed the interview in his mind and said, "Wait a minute! I have a serious problem with that guy after all!" Maybe. Only time will tell.