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29 Oct, 2010 18:06

Comedian Jon Stewart most trusted, influential man in America

The trust of politicians among Americans has dwindled. Ratings of major mainstream television networks have been dropping. Who is left for the American people to trust?

In a recent interview, US President Barack Obama explained that when he promised change in his election campaign, he did not mean change that would be taking place as quickly as in 18 months.

So what happens when “ifs” and “buts” get in the way of political promises? And what happens when the media boils over with fear and anger and the minds of a population are attacked with misinformation?

There is such a lack of truth on the airwaves. We are being dumbed down by the news business,” said media critic and blogger Danny Schechter.

So, who are Americans to trust?

According to a poll conducted on an online men’s magazine, comedian Jon Stewart is officially the most influential man in the United States. After eleven years on The Daily Show, over half a million voters bumped him up to the number one spot. Stewart is also more and more often referred to as the most trusted newscaster and an icon for the decade.

I would be concerned if they said Larry the cable guy was the most trusted man in America. But Jon earned it,” said Lizz Winstead, a comedian and co-creator of The Daily Show.

One way of earning the trust has been confronting the mainstream media.

We need help from the media, and they are hurting us,” Jon Stewart has said in a TV appearance.

The comedian has been dissecting the lies spun by pundits taking over TV screens across America.

In the US it is taking a comedian to show the lack of trust in the media is what is causing news programs to crash in the ratings.

I have privately, among my friends, and also in newspapers and TV shows mentioned this show as being bad,” Stewart said to CNN’s Crossfire.

You made the right choice leaving this place. You know what you are? You are the last guy out of a burning building,” he told Larry King.

And so, comedian Jon Stewart became the most trusted man in America.

He calls crap like he sees it and always uses humor,” said The Daily Show co-creator and comedian Lizz Winstead.

Simpler reasons have let him win hearts and minds too.

He is just a handsome man,” said political comedian Sara Benincasa.

But it’s far from just the ladies appreciating the wit.

For the first time a sitting President has appeared on Stewart’s show, just days before the midterm elections.

In the same poll Stewart won the number one spot, Obama didn’t even make the top 20.

With tens of thousands of Americans – if not more – headed to Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” October 30th in Washington, the fight for truth in media and in politicians is moving almost right into the homes of the political elite.

There is this idea out there that comedians do not have a personal political agenda, but as one, I can say that we do,” Benincasa added.

Even though Stewart denies being a man of politics, if the comedian were to push his agenda forward, the most trusted man in America would have his followers join him.

This should be a frightening thought for all those politicians, media pundits and the rest of the establishment so far failing to earn trust from their own people.

Antiwar activist and co-founder of Code Pink, Medea Benjamin, explained that Stewart wants those who normally do not rally or protest to attend his event. He is not seeking frequent protestors.

More people need to get involved in the United States,” she said.

Appearing on The Daily Show recently, Benjamin said Stewart explained he wants the protestors seen as extreme to stay away.

The United States has become a nation of the uninvolved, Benjamin added. She is glad Stewart is waking more people up and getting them involved in civil society.

Obama is less influential than Stewart because people want to see questions being asked of their leaders.

Benjamin explained, “It takes the court jester to say the emperor has no clothes.”

Will the rally bring more sanity to America?

We’ll have a good laugh, and then come the elections; I think we’ll have a big cry,” Benjamin said.

Jeff Cohen, a journalism professor at Ithaca College said the rally highlights the democratic spirit in America.

You look at people in power with skepticism, you look at them questioning what they’re doing, you have an attitude about them; that’s the democratic spirit that our country was founded on,” Cohen said. “When you look at the corporate mainstream media, you see a lot of cozying up to power. So, I think the reason Jon Stewart and [Stephen] Colbert stick out is, they make fun of power, they make fun of politicians, and more importantly they make fun of the media elite themselves.”

Stewart is very influential; he has a big active youthful audience. The younger audience he holds is not the same as those who watch cable news. They are different from the mainstream audience.

Viewers turn to Stewart and Colbert because they question authority, they ask hard questions. Cable news no longer does.

Corporate media and political power seem to cozy,” said Cohen.

The influence of Stewart and Colbert is well earned. But, if Stewart is not careful, he may soon become too much like a politician, Cohen added.

From a journalistic perspective the rally is certainly a news event worth covering. Cohen explained the success and power behind comedic news and The Daily Show itself highlights the growth and importance of independent media in America.

Stewart and Colbert are really worth hailing, they’re worth holding up. It’s quite interesting to me that the two most important news programs on American television are on the comedy channel,” said Cohen.