Dear Jon Stewart: The Arab Spring Chill Makes You Look Like A Hypocrite

Commentary editor John Podhoretz tweeted around an article at Israelhayom.com by his sister, Ruthie Blum, laying into Jon Stewart for hypocrisy. He could come to the support of the Egyptian satirist now being hailed as the "Egyptian Jon Stewart," but... he made fun of conservatives like Sean Hannity last fall for expressing doubts that the Arab Spring might not be so welcoming of freedom of speech.

Bassem Youssef has been charged with insulting Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi and with defaming Islam. He turned himself in and was granted bail. Morsi also issued a warrant for Stewart's arrest and demanded his extradition from the U.S. so he could be tried for "blasphemy and fomenting anti-Egyptian sentiment." Blum said Stewart should be glad he's an American:

Jon Stewart, the host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," is a very lucky man. This is not merely because the satirist/news anchor is hugely popular, extremely rich and the proud owner of a reputation for fierce honesty cloaked in humor. No, the more relevant reason Stewart should be thanking his lucky stars these days is that he is blessed by virtue of being an American.

Blum calls Stewart "puerile" for laying into Fox as "Bulls--t Mountain." This is such a great takedown of Stewart, it should just be quoted at length:

In response to his arrest, Youssef made a statement that was a lot milder than anything the real Jon Stewart ever had to say about a Republican politician: "I don't have any personal vendettas against anyone. On the contrary it would be an honor for me to host any of those I criticize on my show it would be a success for myself and also a success for freedom of thought and expression, as it would send a message to the people that they, the Muslim Brotherhood, are in power. They accept criticism and that once they leave the show I would still criticize them. This happens all over the world so why can't it be for us?"

Speaking of the Muslim Brotherhood in terms of "freedom of thought and expression" is as oxymoronic as it is moronic. But let us remember that Youssef is at the mercy of the terrorist organization running his country. Youssef could be in genuine peril as a result of his popular performances, not laughing all the way to the bank, like Stewart.

In all fairness to Stewart, however, he did step up swiftly to the plate to defend his Egyptian counterpart. On "The Daily Show" this week, he lashed out at Morsi in a lengthy rant, an excerpt of which is: "Egypt built the great pyramids; maybe you could get some of the people who worked on those to work on getting you a thicker skin. So Bassem Youssef pokes fun at your hat, and your lack of promised democratic reform. What are you worried about? You have an army! He's got puns and a show; you've got tanks and planes. Silencing a comedian does not qualify you to be the president of Egypt. When you are actually powerful you don't have to be petty."

After the show aired, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo sent a clip out on Twitter, but quickly removed it when Morsi's office denounced it as American "interference" and "propaganda." Morsi must know that his multi-millions of dollars in U.S. aid will continue to flow, no matter what lines he crosses — including demanding the arrest and extradition of an American icon.

But what nobody is bothering to bring up these days — least of all the icon himself — is that Stewart was fully in favor of the uprisings that led to the Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Egypt. This does not make him unusual. Lots of people had high hopes for the so-called Arab Spring. But he owes Fox News a big apology for the vitriol he spewed when its commentators took a more sober view — one which turned out to be accurate.

"We could go all night bringing up examples of pundits and bloviaters on the Right who couldn't do enough to promote democracy in the Middle East, as long as it was done at the end of George Bush's gun," Stewart blathered during one of his broadcasts. "But now, as the Middle Eastern countries choose leaders for themselves? Lordy lord, the pearls can't be clutched enough."

This is comedy at its best.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis