Stewart made himself into the leading critic and satirist of the media-political complex, starting with “Indecision 2000,” The Daily Show’s parody of that year’s presidential campaign. His comedy is counterprogramming—postmodern entertainment but with a political purpose. As truth has been overrun by truthiness and facts trampled by lies, he and The Daily Show have become an invaluable corrective—he’s Cronkite, the most trusted man in America, although in keeping with the fragmented culture, he’s trusted by many fewer people, about 1.8 million viewers each night. Years ago, Stewart lost out to Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Kimmel for late-night network jobs, but the shifting media fortunes have made him the long-run winner, with vastly more job security and cultural influence than his conventional talk-show competitors—and most conventional journalists.
Satire makes me smile. And for that I'm grateful.