America will miss Jon Stewart more than Brian Williams — and not just because Stewart is leaving television (presumably) forever while Williams faces (for now) a six-month exile by NBC News.
This is not meant to be a dig or a sign of resentment against the bedraggled Williams, who was suspended without pay by NBC for exaggerating events that happened while he was on a reporting mission in Iraq.
Williams could serve as poster child of the macho world of network news, where everyone seems to be willing to do anything to get a better job or attain higher TV ratings.They are no nakedly ambitious that they set themselves up as easy targets for the likes of Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Saturday Night Live, Bill Maher and the rest.
Stewart has an easier job, in a way. He and his cohorts get to pick and choose the inane, offensive and outright stupid acts of public figures — including journalists, God knows — to lampoon. Given Stewart’s gift for exaggerated facial reactions, he is bound to make people laugh.
Thing is, Jon Stewart is just so damned good at it. That’s while he’ll be missed so much. Sure, John Oliver is doing a fine job ove at HBO as sort of the new Stewart. But no matter how popular Oliver or anyone else becomes, there s only one Jon Stewart.
Stewart’s secret weapon is that he is much smarter than the others. He has a sharp intellect and can uncannily zoom in on the joke every time. He has a gift for uncovering absurdities of life. Sure, Oliver, Colbert, Maher at al can sound outraged, too, but Stewart has made us feel that we all get the joke, whether it is Dick Cheney taking us on a slow train to hell or Brian Williams getting savaged for lying about Iraq by his critics while the media hordes who could have raised their voices during the buildup to the invasion of Iraq stayed mute, allowing President George W. Bush to have additional confidence.
Williams did his job well in the anchor’s chair. He struck respectful tones and got over his early penchant for stuffy behavior. But anchors come and go nowadays. Think about it. With Williams in limbo and newcomer David Muir finding his footing at ABC, CBS’ Scott Pelley is now the senior anchor among the Big # Networks.
Brian Williams was an excellent anchor. But anchors are disposable in our society.
Jon Stewart is a brilliant satirist.
We need more of them.
Problem is, Stewart has no peer.