This week, journalists have been robbed of a guilty pleasure. In several months, we will no longer wrap ourselves in frayed bathrobes, sip a stiff cup of joe, click on the tablet and enjoy — nay, really savor — watching our profession get lampooned.
Most of us, we’ll quickly add, get our daily dose of Jon Stewart after consuming the news in less comedic ways — online, in print and on our Twitter feeds. (And most of the 2.2 million viewers watch the show the morning after it airs, online or on social media.) But now that the master of the “epic takedown” is set to step down as anchor of The Daily Show, who will make journalists laugh at ourselves? And who, by virtue of his sheer universality, will goad us into being better journalists?
Oh, sure, sure. Some of us take contumacious pleasure in seeing Stewart skewer politicians whom we cannot because doctrines of journalistic fairness and balance forbid it.
As Stewart told PBS’s Bill Moyers in 2003, four years after becoming Daily anchor:
“I can’t tell you how many times we’ll run into a journalist and go, ‘Boy, that’s . . . I wish we could be saying that. That’s exactly the way we see it and that’s exactly the way we’d like to be saying that.’ And I always think, ‘Well, why don’t you?'”