Why President Obama's Relationship With Jon Stewart Was So Special

Photo: Courtesy Of Comedy Central.
It’s the end of an era. The Obama/Stewart era, that is. President Barack Obama made his seventh and final visit to The Daily Show with host Jon Stewart on July 21. The president wasted no time getting down to important business, telling The Daily Show crowd that he’s instating a new executive order: “Jon Stewart cannot leave the show.” (Obama proceeded to joke that the decision was “being challenged in the courts.”) Stewart began the interview with a crack about their shared senior status, and though they're both older now than when they started their respective gigs, any time these two get together, they look and sound as vibrant as ever, don’t they?

While Obama and Stewart certainly shared many light and funny moments during their final visit (as has been their M.O. over the years), touching on everything from Super Bowl predictions to “advice for future President Trump,” they also had an engaging, thoughtful discussion that touched on some of the most pressing issues facing our country and the world, including nuclear weapons and the education system.

During the nearly 30-minute interview, Obama spoke about how a lot of the work he did early on in his presidency is now starting to take shape, from negotiations with Iran to health care reform. But even with many of his accomplishments already underway, President Obama offered assurance that his remaining 18 months in office would be be productive. “There are a bunch of other things that we want to get done... Climate change is a good example.” The president said he wants to set in motion a global initiative to address the changes that need to be made.

One of the most pointed aspects of their final conversation, however, was their discussion of the different facets of the new media landscape. While President Obama put it bluntly, saying, “I think [the media] gets distracted by shiny objects and doesn’t always focus on the big, tough decisions that have to be made,” he also noted that he’s never “felt particularly guarded” with the media.

Case in point: The President acknowledged to Stewart that “we operate in sound bites,” but he’s also wisely made forays into that media space, making inroads with younger audiences through appearances in things like Between Two Ferns, and yes, The Daily Show.

Obama concluded his visit with a plea to all American citizens to pay attention to the big issues and get involved with their communities to effect real change. The president told Stewart that he believes that this nation’s young people are not “too cynical or too ironic” and that, as a whole, “the country is full of good and decent people.”

It’s truly a marvel that over all these years, Stewart and The Daily Show have offered the president a forum to speak candidly like this. Stewart has been a huge supporter of the president, and for Obama, the feeling was mutual. In fact, his final words to the departing host were, “You’ve been a great gift to the country.”

Watch the entire interview below.

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