Today, Roger Ailes resigned as chairman of Fox News after scathing accusations of sexual harassment emerged and Donald Trump officially accepted the Republican presidential nomination. Those are the kinds of stories with which Jon Stewart would have had a field day back when he was hosting The Daily Show. Sadly, he’s no longer around to tell us how he feels about the news. Or is he?
Following his surprise appearance on The Late Show earlier this week to help usher The Colbert Report’s “Stephen Colbert” back into our hearts, Stewart showed up once again Thursday night to deliver an old-school Daily Show-style takedown of the Fox News empire that helped make Donald Trump the Republican presidential nominee.
“I just want to say that, although I spent well over a decade making fun of his network and him and the damage I think he did to the world, the news of this man losing his job gives me no pleasure,” Stephen Colbert said, before asking the camera to cut away so he could laugh with joy. “If only there was someone I could share this lack of pleasure with.”
At that point, a bearded, T-shirt-wearing Stewart appeared beside Colbert. “I was wondering if I could just maybe talk about the election for a little bit,” he said, asking the Late Show host to step aside so he could take over. After strapping on a jacket and clip-on tie, he seemed to finally feel back at home delivering the type of scathing political commentary we haven’t heard from Trevor Noah or Colbert since Stewart entered retirement last year.
Starting with the RNC, Stewart said, “The Republicans appear to have a very clear plan for America. One, jail your political opponent. Two, inject Rudy Giuliani with a speedball-and-Red Bull enema, and, three, spend the rest of the time scaring the holy bejesus out of everybody.”
But instead of that, Stewart said he wanted to focus on the “contortions many conservatives will have to do to embrace Donald J. Trump, a man who clearly embodies all the things that they have said for years that they have hated about Barack Obama.” After playing a series of Fox News pundits ripping the Democratic president, he said, “A ‘thin-skinned narcissist’ with ‘no government experience?’ Yes, that sounds exactly like Barack Obama.”
To trace the journey of how the conservative media have been and will continue to “justify” the choice that Republicans have made, Stewart homed in on a single target: Fox News host Sean Hannity, whom he referred to as “Lumpy.”
While Hannity thought Obama was “the most divisive president in American history,” he has no problem with Trump calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.” As Stewart added, “I’m not an expert on racial unity, but I do believe that some of our more vaunted historical leaders in that area did retweet white supremacists less than Trump.”
Hannity has also slammed Obama for using a teleprompter, something Trump now does regularly. When he examined how Hannity once criticized the way “elitist” Obama orders a burger, Stewart even managed to work in one of his classic Arby’s plugs. Hannity likes to call Trump a “blue-collar billionaire.”
“That’s not a thing,” Stewart deadpanned. “Trump does seem like the kind of guy you’d like to sit down and own a fleet of airplanes with.”
But more than anything else over the past eight years, Hannity and his Fox News friends have eviscerated Obama for not being Christian enough. Yet when the Pope questioned Trump’s Christianity, Hannity was outraged. “Yeah, who died and made that guy pope?” Stewart joked.
“Here’s where we are,” Stewart said, setting off on a rant that ranks up there with his greatest hits. “Either Lumpy and friends are lying about being bothered by thin-skinned, authoritarian, less-than-Christian readers-of-prompter being president, or they don’t care, as long as it’s their thin-skinned prompter authoritarian tyrant narcissist. You just want that person to give you your country back, because you feel that you are this country’s rightful owner. The only problem with that: This country isn’t yours. You don’t own it. It never was. There is no ‘real’ America. You don’t own it. You don’t own patriotism. You don’t own Christianity. You sure as hell don’t own respect for the bravery and sacrifice for military, police, and firefighters. Trust me!”
“I saw a lot of people on the convention floor with their ‘Blue Lives Matter’ rhetoric who either remained silent or actively fought against the 9/11 first responders’ bill reauthorization,” he continued. “So I see you, and I see your bullshit,” he added, triggering CBS’s censors.
After briefly quoting Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton, Stewart finished by saying, “Those fighting to be included in the ideal of equality are not being divisive. Those fighting to keep those people out are. So, Lumpy, you and your friends have embraced Donald Trump. Clearly the ‘c’ next to your names don’t stand for constitutional or conservative, but cravenly convenient—”
Before Stewart could get out that last c-word, Colbert blew an air horn and told Stewart they were out of time. Instead of dropping the mic, Stewart dropped his tie on the desk.
He may be out of the game, but he’s lost none of his skill.