In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper Sunday, Stewart suggested that media members should learn turning Trump into a “supervillain” would backfire and they would better serve Americans by focusing on more pressing issues.
“I think we make a mistake focusing this all on Donald Trump, as if he’s … Magneto and some incredible supervillain that has changed the very nature and temperature of the U.S.,” Stewart said.
“I think it’s a mistake to focus it all on this one individual and not to focus it more on the idea that power is its own reward whether it be in the financial industry or government. Power doesn’t cede itself, and unless we can figure out a better way to balance out that power … we’ll be vulnerable,” he added.
Tapper and Stewart touched on several topics but viewers, many of them liberal, gave Stewart an overall failing grade.
New York University professor Jay Rosen called Stewart “lost” and inarticulate” after watching the interview.
His sentiments were shared by other progressives, some of them who again voiced their disappointment in the comedian. To much liberal chagrin, Stewart stepped down from “The Daily Show” in 2015, in the midst of Trump’s rise to the GOP nomination and eventually the presidency.
MSNBC’S Mehdi Hasan spent a segment Sunday questioning Stewart’s generalization of the media. He and his colleague Ayman Mohyeldin concluded Stewart was wrong to point the finger at all broadcast media and should have instead zeroed in “right wing media” as being the purveyor of misinformation and for failing to de-escalate situations. Mohyeldin called Stewart’s take “absolutely false.”
Journalist Glenn Greenwald came to Stewart’s defense, suggesting that so many were irked by his comments because they fell under “heretical claims in liberal discourse.”
“His two basic points were 1) the liberal sector of corporate media (CNN) focuses excessively on Trump as the cause of America’s evils and 2) the US is plagued by multiple broken and corrupt institutions, not just the GOP — two heretical claims in liberal discourse,” Greenwald tweeted in his analysis.
Long a darling of the left, Stewart was previously ripped by some liberal media members for giving credence to the theory that COVID-19 leaked from a Wuhan lab, noting the strong circumstantial evidence during a June appearance on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
“‘Oh my God, there’s been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Penn. What do you think happened?’ I don’t know, maybe a steam shovel mated with a cocoa bean,” he said. “Or it’s the f—ing chocolate factory! Maybe that’s it!”
Ex-CBS News anchor Dan Rather called Stewart’s comments “dangerous and shortsighted,” and Washington Post columnist Paul Waldman fumed that “celebrities” shouldn’t be considered reliable sources of information, among other critics.
“Listen, how it got to be that if it was a scientific accident, it’s conservative, and if it came from a wet market, it’s liberal, I don’t know — I’m just not sure how that got politicized,” Stewart said when responding to the backlash.