The return of Jon Stewart’s ‘Daily Show’ is very smooth

The Daily Show’s First Night: Revisiting the Celebrated Host of The Day After Judgmentary Report by B.C. Hur

Even though the report by Hur, a former Trump appointee, does look like a partisan hit job, that is still true. Democratic attorneys general make a terrible habit of appointing Republican special counsels in order to demonstrate their own impartiality, which is a type of moral preening that Republicans rarely fall victim to. With Hur deciding not to charge Biden with any crimes, his comments about his age, particularly his claim that Biden could not remember the year his son died, was designed to hurt him politically. It worked if that was the case.

Stewart faced a new challenge of reminding everyone why he was such a venerated host, after poking fun at idea that he’s an old guy returning to his job, highlighting concerns about two other old guys competing to get their old job back.

He showed how Biden’s likely opponent in the presidency, Donald Trump, had a history of erratic behavior, as well as showing how the former president couldn’t remember basic facts during court depositions.

But even though some liberals may be sensitive to the idea that comparing Biden’s gaffes with Trump’s behavior is an unfair “both sides” balancing act, Stewart insisted supporters should do a better job showing the current president is vital and effective as they say he is.

“It’s the candidate’s job to assuage concerns,” Stewart said in a 20-minute segment that kicked off last night’s program. “Not the voter’s job not to mention them.”

Stewart will host The Daily Show on Mondays and serve as an executive producer for all evenings unlike other cable TV stars who host only a single evening show. Jordan Klepper will start hosting on Tuesday, giving the rest of the week to the show’s correspondents.

But the media environment Stewart has returned to is quite different. Ratings in late night have declined and the young audiences which once fueled the genre have moved on to TikTok and YouTube. With luck, Stewart’s appeal to the old fashioned fans of The Daily Show will bring better ratings on the cable channel, but it’s still likely to be a smaller crowd than he once commanded.

Last night’s debut proved Stewart will bring that and more, buying time for an influential show at a crossroads to figure out a new future for itself at least one more time.

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