How Jon Stewart Is and Isn't Like Fox News

Two new magazine pieces on Stewart compare the comedian with his cable news pincushion

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Jon Stewart is enjoying a mid-September press push. He's on the cover of Rolling Stone and featured in a lengthy profile in Esquire, and the similarities between him and his sworn enemy Fox News are the center of attention. In an interview teased on, the Comedy Central host tells the magazine that The Daily Show and Fox News aren't all that different:

We are both reactions to the news and to government,” he says. “We’re both expressions of dissatisfaction. [Roger Ailes'], I think, happens to be a slightly more powerful version [laughs.] . . . . Ailes was a strategist for Nixon. He comes from the seat of power, and he understands how important the narrative is. We come from comedy, so our natural instinct is not to understand that, and to be bratty. That goes a long way towards explaining the difference between the two organizations.

But over at Esquire, Tom Junod highlights Stewart's allergic reaction to comparisons between him and Fox News, noting an exchange between Stewart and Fox News's Chris Wallace earlier this year:

He kind of spoke power to truth when Wallace dared to point out that Stewart seems to crave political influence? He sort of pulled rank on Wallace, and was smug and condescending without bothering to be funny at all? He even started saying, "Are you suggesting that you and I are the same?..." in the same tone he would have used if Wallace had gotten a little schmutz on Stewart's shirt?

The Rolling Stone article looks like a close-up on Stewart's views of Obama's first-term in office. Junod's piece is a more saddened look at how the current political environment is a lot more difficult to laugh at, noting that Stewart's "not so funny anymore, and it's not only because he's come to take himself seriously. It's because in the Obama era, we're starting to see the price of refusing to stand for anything." While the Esquire piece is available now online, RS wants you to go buy the magazine on newsstands.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.