Letterman and the ‘Daily Show’: Comparing 9/11 and bin Laden reactions

Jon Stewart, 10 years younger.

The period immediately following 9/11 was filled with many speeches, but few are as remembered as fondly today as those of the late-night funnymen. Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” and David Letterman of “The Late Show with David Letterman” are ostensibly comedians, but their words in the weeks after the attacks stood out for the way they were able to express courage and dignity in the face of unprecedented horrors.

10 years later, how did both men react to the news of Osama bin Laden’s death? Let’s compare:

Letterman on 9/17/01 spoke with typical Midwestern acidity: “We’re told that they were zealots fueled by religious fervor. And if you live to be a thousand years old, will that make any sense to you? Will that make any goddamn sense?”

Last night, though, Dave was far more exuberant: “That didn’t take long!”

Unlike Letterman, Stewart in 2001 was an up-and-comer just earning his stripes: “I am sorry to do this to you. It’s another entertainment show beginning with an overwrought speech of a shaken host, and television is nothing if not redundant.”

Last night, though, it was as if Stewart was a cartoon character celebrating the death of a long-time nemesis — which, in a sense, he was.

Which do you prefer?


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