It’s safe to say that Jon Stewart leaves “The Daily Show” with the kind of legacy generally reserved for people with far too many post-graduate degrees. For over a decade, his show asked the important questions about what was happening in the country, and skewered only the most deserving subjects. And despite his self-deprecating jokes about only being watched by stoned college students, Stewart’s show has been more than just satire: Real change came about because of him. Here, in no particular order, are some of the host's biggest wins.
1. “Crossfire” gets canceled
Stewart’s distaste for pundit shows of all stripes came up repeatedly over the years, but it was his appearance on “Crossfire” that had the biggest impact. After appearing on the CNN debate program and pointing out that its hosts were hacks and that the show was “hurting America,” “Crossfire” was quickly and unceremoniously canceled a few months later. Though it ended up being revived in 2013, it has since gone under again, as part of what we can only assume is a hex Stewart put on it.
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2. First responders get their health care
Back in 2010, a bill providing health care for 9/11 first responders was in danger of being dropped after Republicans filibustered it. Stewart invited four men who had been first on the scene on September 11 — all of whom were suffering from health ailments related to their actions on that day — and asked them what they thought of what was happening. Not surprisingly, the legislation passed soon after that.
3. Teaching us to question media
We all knew there were a lot of pundit shows on before “The Daily Show,” but they would have gotten away with a great deal more shenanigans if not for Stewart repeatedly putting them under the microscope. Sure, he didn’t get every talking-head program canceled, but he made a vast audience a lot more skeptical of the way their news was being presented.
4. Making young people aware of current events
Stewart regularly defended his program as a comedic show rather than a news program, but there’s no doubt that young people ended up a lot more informed about the news. “The Daily Show” was the best, hippest way to find out what was going on for those who weren’t exactly tuning in to Brian Williams, no matter how many awesome stories about helicopter crashes Williams invented. Whether he intended it or not, Stewart managed to be the Walter Cronkite of our generation.