Jon Stewart talks with Barack Obama on Comedy Central's "Indecision 2010" on October 27, 2010 in Washington, DC.
AP/Olivier Douliery/Picture Group.

There’s no denying Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert’s political power


Let me finish tonight with this.

I’ve long ago come to the conclusion that Comedy Central (and Saturday Night Live before it) can make or break a politician.

SNL and Chevy Chase did it to Gerald Ford, taking an all-American from Michigan and graduate of Yale Law and converting him into an oaf–a dumb oaf. SNL and Comedy Central have been doing, and maybe they’ve already done it, a similar job on Vice President Joe Biden. They’ve made him a prisoner of his gaffes.

Fair enough, you can argue. Political satire, rough satire, has been in the political arena since the days when Thomas Nast portrayed Republicans as elephants, Democrats as donkeys. It’s in our partisan bloodstreams.

Hardball with Chris Matthews, 5/14/14, 8:14 PM ET

Matthews on the power of political satire

Chris Matthews shares his thoughts about how Comedy Central is changing the political conversation.
But I think it’s escalated now that Comedy Central has grabbed the minds of young voters–really grabbed it. There’s a reason why we show you clips in the Sideshow of Jon Stewart and Steve Colbert. They’re powerful. They cut the quick of popular culture. They inhabit that world where people form their opinions of those who would lead us.

And right now, as I speak, the fiercest of this all, Jon Stewart, is tearing the insides out of those on the right: Limbaugh, Rove and the rest we see chewing and belching on the Benghazi and Nigeria “smorgasbord” like hogs in a trough.

I have long believed that cable television has come to challenge elected office as a platform for national leadership. Name me a politician in either party or either chamber of Congress or even a governor who has the nightly power of Stewart or Colbert to take apart a pomposity like Limbaugh or circus act like Karl Rove with the sharpness that Jon and Stephen display night after night after night.

I say: Good for them.

Jon Stewart

There's no denying Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert's political power