The career trajectory of Jon Stewart

I watched this exchange between Jon Stewart and Fox’s Chris Wallace at the weekend in which Stewart took issue with Wallace’s suggestion that he aspired to be a serious interviewer. At one point he asked Wallace, “what am I at my highest aspiration and what are you at your highest aspiration?” Wallace responded that “you want to be a political player” and Stewart took profound issue with this.

It’s fascinating to watch this back because Stewart has in his most recent incarnation become the most devastating political interviewer, with the possible exception of Mehdi Hasan, operating within the (admittedly extremely constrained parameters) of mainstream American political journalism:

As a biographical sociologist I’m deeply intrigued about whether Stewart secretly, inarticulately, sought to become this at the time of the original interview. Or is this just the natural progression of his career, as someone quick on his feet with strong opinions who has clearly sought to speak truth to power? It’s a question I’m asking from the starting point that he is exceptionally good at this (much more so than Paxman and Humphrys from the UK context; he is analytical yet funny, rather than merely persistent) who would ideally have graduated to this much sooner, if he had been suitably inclined.

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