Entertainment

Left-leaning fans of ‘The Daily Show’ slam Jon Stewart’s segment about President Biden’s age: ‘I won’t be watching’

While Jon Stewart’s announcement in late January that he would be returning to The Daily Show desk through the election was marked with anticipation and excitement in many circles, his first night back on Comedy Central’s late-night satirical news show was received with mixed reactions — particularly from his usually loyal audience of left-leaning fans.

The first episode had many liberal-leaning social media users frustrated with Stewart’s segment — dubbed “Indecision 2024” — that expressed concerns about 81-year-old President Joe Biden’s age. Recently, both the media and voters have questioned the ages, memory and vitality of both Biden and Republican candidate Donald Trump, 77, especially concerning the next four years.

Stewart played footage of both candidates and commented on both of them. For Biden, Stewart poked fun at the president’s recent debut on TikTok and a clip of him addressing reporters at a White House press conference on Feb. 8.

In the episode, Stewart even preemptively addressed Democrats who might have an issue with him commenting on Biden’s age.

“Now Democrats will say any criticism on this, especially of Biden, is unfair,” Stewart said. “It is the candidates’ job to assuage concerns, not the voters’ job not to mention them.”

Biden supporters share frustration on social media

Biden supporters on X, formerly known as Twitter, expressed frustration over Stewart seemingly presenting both candidates as “equally bad” or were surprised that Stewart, who has always been popular among young, liberal voters, went after Biden at all.

“Wow. So you basically say because Biden is old, he is basically as bad as Trump,” an X user with “#TeamJoe” in his bio wrote. “Why thr F do we never learn as a country? Sorry, but I won’t be watching you either.”

“It’s funny how he didnt have a problem with age when it came to Bernie sanders who’s even OLDER than President Biden,” one viewer wrote on X. “How can you say a 81-year-old man can’t run this country when Biden is 81 & running it very well.”

A lot of the frustration comes from viewers who consider Stewart’s jokes to be “bothsideism” — a term used to critique journalists who present a “false balance” between two viewpoints that don’t have equal evidence or support; a practice that has been commonly blamed for why Hilary Clinton lost the 2016 election.

Just how vital are young voters?

Henry Jenkins, a culture and media author and journalism professor at the University of Southern California, told Yahoo News that he was surprised that Stewart’s jokes on Biden “came as a shock” to viewers.

“There’s an expectation that [The Daily Show] was a progressive comedy, but traditionally the comedy shows try to play it somewhat centrist — otherwise they couldn’t exist when the Democrats were in power,” he explained. “But I do understand what the stakes here are: This linking young people getting their news from news-comedy [shows] and young people being seen by Democrats in particular as vital for Biden’s re-election.”

According to Jenkins, where this “anger” stems from is young people not voting in the 2016 election. For the Democratic Party, young voter turnout is an important component to Biden’s campaign. (His new TikTok account and recent meme about conspiracy theories that he rigged the Super Bowl arguably offer insight into how much stake the campaign is putting into connecting with young voters.)

Jenkins argues that viewers fear if Stewart doesn’t explicitly pick a side, young voters won’t either. Rolling Stone reporter Alan Sepinwall explained in an article about Stewart’s return that for many young viewers throughout the 2000s, Stewart was “their primary news source.”

“We need to recognize that young people don’t generally sit down and watch the evening news,” Jenkins said. “They have become grazers — information via social media. That shift and how young people consume news was coupled with the rise of news entertainment or news-comedy with The Daily Show maybe being the most important example of that.”

Comedy Central did not respond to Yahoo News’s request for comment.

“He’s become a mythic figure, like a legend from the past who suddenly reappears and can’t possibly live up to the heroic ideas that people project on him,” Jenkins said about Stewart. “The expectations of some guy coming in on a white horse championing progressive causes and slaying the dragon runs very high. I think that creates unreasonable expectations about what Jon Stewart can do in one comedy routine.”




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