TIME: Jon Stewart’s Return a ‘Bad Omen’ for Late Night TV

February 3rd, 2024 1:30 PM

The media is in full celebration mode following Jon Stewart’s return to “The Daily Show.”

Outlets trumpeted Stewart’s news, eager to hear him lambaste Donald Trump on his new, Mondays-only format. Reporters are ready to trot out their favorite adjectives, like “destroys” and “annihilates,” to describe the far-left comic’s future monologues against the GOP.




Not so fast.

Time magazine threw some cold water on the news, suggesting Stewart may be the wrong choice for the gig. More importantly, the gig itself may be going the way of the 8-track tape.

…whether you idolize him or abhor him, Stewart’s return feels like a bad omen for an aging show that captured the early-aughts media zeitgeist like no other—and for late night as a genre.

Uh oh.

The article lists the obvious, and not so obvious, reasons for the format’s decline. More competition. The rise of streaming alternatives. Stewart may not be able to save the franchise he established a decade-plus ago.

Only a show—or a network, or an entertainment monolith, or a TV format—whose glory days were over would be so eager to revisit them.

Left unsaid? Stewart’s hard-left shtick alienates half the country and every late-night competitor not named Gutfeld will be sniping at the same targets.

Newsweek offered a mixed reaction to the Stewart announcement. The show he left behind is no longer the ratings force we remember.

A healthy 3.47 million viewers tuned in to watch Noah’s premiere episode as The Daily Show host in September 2015, per Variety…The Daily Show went to average 1.1 million viewers that year. However, it was unable to escape an industry-wide decline in ratings. In August 2022, The Wrap reported that it was averaging just 383,000 viewers…


Plus, Stewart’s audience for his most recent project, AppleTV+’s “The Problem with Jon Stewart” proved minuscule – a reported 40K each week.

What’s missing from the conversation? Late-night’s extreme lurch to the Left.

Yes, Stewart was never a conservative, but he wasn’t as cartoonishly biased as his modern-day successors. Late-night comics won’t lay a glove on President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris or the so-called Squad.

Their jokes lean relentlessly to GOP targets, even as the current Commander in Chief slurs his speeches and looks confused when it’s time to leave the stage.



Liberal journalist Dylan Byers sounded hopeful that Stewart would quickly regain his former standing during a chat on Puck’s “The Powers That Be” podcast. Byers said Stewart remains in “high demand” despite his minuscule ratings on AppleTV+ and the indifferent response to his most recent political comedy, “Irresistible.”

Host Peter Hamby disagreed, suggesting today’s climate won’t be so kind to Stewart’s brand.

Stewart famously held the “Rally to Restore Sanity” in 2010 on the National Mall, a time in which he decried perpetual outrage, a lack of discourse and calling opponents “racist” without having the facts to back up the claim.

Has he met today’s Left?

“It feels like politics is so strident [today], the sanity Jon Stewart was clamoring for, there’s not much of a market for that,” Hamby said. “I think it will be hard for Comedy Central to pull in Gen Z viewers … that generation has a much more strident and earnest view of politics that doesn’t tolerate satire.”

In fact, if Stewart attempts to mock President Biden or the Left’s woke revolution, he could lose his hardcore fans in a hurry.

Stewart faced the Left’s fury two years ago when he suggested COVID-19 escaped from a lab, the very real theory progressives deemed off limits to even mention. (Now, it’s considered the most likely source of the virus.)



Stewart was shocked by the reaction to the segment.

“The larger problem with all of this is the inability to discuss things that are within the realm of possibility without falling into absolutes and litmus-testing each other for our political allegiances as it arose from that. My bigger problem with that was I thought it was a pretty good bit that expressed kind of how I felt, and the two things that came out of it were I’m racist against Asian people, and how dare I align myself with the alt-right,” he continued.

Hamby slyly notes why the comedian will have to stick to Republican targets lest he face a similar blowback moving forward.

“The tolerance for criticizing the Left, in particular, and other comedians have been talking about this, that’s hard,” Hamby said.