Friday, March 1, 2024

Jon Stewart Rips Trump AND Biden in ‘Daily Show’ Return: “Similarly Challenged”

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Jon Stewart returned to host The Daily Show on Monday, and within three minutes was already going after Donald Trump — but also Joe Biden, taking a critical look at the president’s apparent age-related issues.

Announcing “Indecision 2024: Electile Dysfunction,” Stewart dove right into special counsel Robert Hur’s report that exonerated President Biden on the matter of mishandling classified documents while also seemingly torpedoing his re-election efforts with its harsh description of Biden as an elderly man with a poor memory. Stewart showed clips of Trump and the former president’s family being deposed and likewise not being able to recall some basic facts. “It turns out that the leading cause of early onset dementia is being deposed,” Stewart said (monologue video below).

But then, Stewart showed footage of Biden’s disastrous Friday press conference attempt to assure Americans that he was still up to the task of the world’s most important job. “So Joe Biden had a big press conference to dispel the notion that he may have lost a step and, politically speaking, may have lost three to four steps…” and later noted, “[But] Trump regularly says things at rallies that would warrant a wellness check.”

Stewart played a clip of Vice President Kamala Harris assuring that in closed-door meetings Biden is “smart … on his game … and on top of it all.” Asked Stewart skeptically: “Did anyone film that? … That would be good to show to people.”

Stewart also played Biden’s debut TikTok video that launched this weekend, noting the president declined to sit for the traditional pre-Super Bowl interview instead. The video included the president making a comment about chocolate chip cookies, and Stewart quipped, “How do you go on TikTok and end up looking older?”

“These two candidates, they are both similarly challenged,” Stewart declared. “And it is not crazy to think that the oldest people in the history of the country to ever run for president might have some of these challenges … We’re not suggesting neither man is vibrant, productive or even capable. But they’re both stretching the limits of being able to handle the toughest job in the world. What’s crazy is thinking that we’re the ones, as voters, who must silence concerns and criticisms. It is the candidates’ job to assuage concerns, not the voters’ job not to mention [them] … We have two candidates who are chronologically outside the norm of anyone who has run for the presidency in the history of this country — breaking the record that they set!”

Stewart, naturally, did not suggest this meant both candidates were equally flawed overall, and quickly ran down many concerns about Trump. But, he argued, the threat of Trump to Democrats and democracy are all the more reason his opponent ideally ought to be somebody stronger than Biden.

“Look, Joe Biden isn’t Donald Trump,” he said. “He hasn’t been indicted as many times, hasn’t had as many fraudulent businesses or been convicted in a civil trial for sexual assault or been ordered to pay defamation charges or stiffed blue collar tradesman….. The stakes of this election don’t make Donald Trump’s opponent less subject to scrutiny. It actually makes him more subject to scrutiny. If the barbarians are at the gate, you want Conan [the Barbarian] standing on the ramparts, not chocolate chip cookie guy.”

Stewart also criticized Biden’s description of Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks as being “over the top.” Said Stewart: “Biden describes Israel’s incessant bombing of civilians the same way my mother talks about the Super Bowl halftime show.”

Comedy Central shocked Daily Show fans last month by announcing that Stewart would return to the late night series as an executive producer and once-a-week host. For non-Monday shows — which Stewart will help steer behind the scenes — The Daily Show will the split host duties among its team of correspondents (which include Jordan Klepper, Desi Lydic, Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta and Dulcé Sloan).

The move followed the collapse of Stewart’s partnership with Apple TV+, where he made the topic-driven discussion series, The Problem With Jon Stewart.

Earlier Monday, Stewart explained to CBS Mornings his reason for returning to the show that he previously hosted for 16 years.

“I very much wanted to have some place to unload thoughts as we get into this election season,” Stewart said. “I thought I was going to do it over at … Apple TV+. … They decided, they felt that they didn’t want me to say things that might get me in trouble. … I don’t know about ‘hoping to have an influence,’ but I’m hoping to have a catharsis and a way to comment on things and a way to express them that hopefully people will enjoy.”

The re-hiring of Stewart helps shore up The Daily Show during what’s bound to be a tumultuous election year. The show’s last full-time host, Trevor Noah, unexpectedly stepped down in 2022 after seven years behind the desk.

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