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Jon Stewart Reacts to ‘Daily Show’ Backlash: “I Have Sinned Against You”

Nope, Jon Stewart isn’t walking back his criticism of President Joe Biden last week during his Daily Show return. If anything, Stewart kind of doubled down during his second episode Monday night, before spending the bulk of his opening segment tearing into Tucker Carlson’s Russia propaganda tour.

Stewart opened his second show back on the Comedy Central late night series by diving right into the backlash to his first (specifically citing this Hollywood Reporter story). Stewart had generated plenty of headlines — and big ratings — in an episode where he mocked Biden for his apparent age-related cognitive issues. Some progressives have slammed the segment, accusing Stewart of inadvertently helping Biden’s presumed election rival, Donald Trump.

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“The response to the first show last Monday was universally glowing — OK, maybe not universal,” Stewart said (video below) while showing screenshots of critical tweets. “But [the backlash was] on Twitter! Everything on Twitter gets a backlash. I’ve seen Twitter tell Labradoodles to go fuck themselves. I just think it’s better to deal head on with what’s an apparent issue to people. I mean … we’re just talking here! It was just one fucking show! It was 20 minutes! I did 20 minutes in one fucking show! But I guess as the famous saying goes: ‘Democracy dies in discussion.’ But look: I have sinned against you, I’m sorry. It was never my intention to say out loud what I saw with my eyes and then brain.”

Then Stewart pivoted to Carlson’s widely panned interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin and glowing Moscow travelogue clips that saw the former Fox News personality praising Putin’s regime for the ecstatic quality of a subway station and the prices at a grocery store.

“See, $104 for groceries sounds like a great bargain unless you realize Russians earn less than $200 a week,” Stewart said. “But that’s the kind of context that a — what did you call yourself earlier? A journalist would have provided. But here’s the reality: You fucking know all this because you aren’t as dumb as your face would have us believe. Perhaps if your handlers had allowed, you would have seen there is a hidden fee to your cheap groceries and orderly streets. Ask Alexei Navalny or any of his supporters.”

“The question is: Why is Tucker doing this?” Stewart continued, and then turned serious: “It’s because the old civilizational battle was communism versus capitalism — that’s what drove the world since World War II. Russia was the enemy then. But now they think the battle is woke versus un-woke. And in that fight, Putin is an ally to the right. He’s their friend. Unfortunately, he is also a brutal and ruthless dictator. So now they have to make Americans a little more comfortable with that. I mean, liberty is nice, but have you seen Russia’s shopping carts? And Tucker would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for those meddling assassins [allegedly killing Navalny].”

During his monologue last week, Stewart had lamented about Biden and Trump, “These two candidates, they are both similarly challenged. And it is not crazy to think that the oldest people in the history of the country to ever run for president might have some of these challenges … We’re not suggesting neither man is vibrant, productive or even capable. But they’re both stretching the limits of being able to handle the toughest job in the world. What’s crazy is thinking that we’re the ones, as voters, who must silence concerns and criticisms. It is the candidates’ job to assuage concerns, not the voters’ job not to mention [them] … Look, Joe Biden isn’t Donald Trump. He hasn’t been indicted as many times, hasn’t had as many fraudulent businesses or been convicted in a civil trial for sexual assault or been ordered to pay defamation charges or stiffed blue-collar tradesmen … The stakes of this election don’t make Donald Trump’s opponent less subject to scrutiny. It actually makes him more subject to scrutiny. If the barbarians are at the gate, you want Conan standing on the ramparts, not chocolate chip cookie guy.”

Yet Mary Trump — a vehement critic of her uncle — wrote on X: “Not only is Stewart’s ‘both sides are the same’ rhetoric not funny, it’s a potential disaster for democracy.” While former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann tweeted, “Well after nine years away, there’s nothing else to say to the bothsidesist fraud Jon Stewart bashing Biden, except: Please make it another nine years.”

In any case, Stewart’s return delivered big ratings for Comedy Central. The Daily Show viewership shot up to 1.85 million viewers, the biggest audience for the show in nearly six years.

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