If the press and TV media are called the 4th estate, would Jon Stewart, John Oliver and Steven Colbert be the 5th estate? Late night political commentator/comedians spin the serious stories of today with sprinklings or globs of outrageous humor that help their audience view the world and its leaders from different angles. Where would we be without humorists, cartoonists and satirists? These smart and talented people enable us to see the humor in serious issues; encourage us to become critical, analytical thinkers while maintaining some emotional distance through humor, sarcasm and sharp wit. Taking on some of the most sobering, complex issues in the world today they guide and shape our thinking, encourage us to ask questions, to look behind the staged photos and film clips, to perceive the flaws in news stories and see the contradictions, hypocrisies and deceptions in leaders across the world. They give us a glimpse of ‘behind-the-scene action so the bright lights and stagecraft fail to blind us to the reality of world-wide political events have become.
Jon Stewart has been called ‘the funniest smart man’ or ‘the smartest funny man’ and both attributions are true. He is the leader if not creator of the 5th estate; he is unique in the world of humorous political commentators. He has made an enormous contribution to the field of news/commentary, he is greatly appreciated and will be greatly missed when he retires from The Daily Show to move on and express his keen insights in other arenas.