During seven appearances throughout the years, it’s been obvious to audience members that Jon Stewart and Barack Obama have chemistry and mutual respect for one another. We had no idea the extent, though. According to Politico, Stewart has made at least two secret visits to the White House, right before a big policy announcement.
Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.
In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a midmorning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.
This might not be particularly surprising. Poll after poll has shown that The Daily Show is among the most respected, if not the most respected news source for young people. Stewart’s audience isn’t huge – about 1.5 million – but it’s influential. His audience is educated and they pay attention to politics. They also vote and they are mostly liberal.
The idea that Stewart might have insider knowledge or even influence over the presidential agenda has caused some to question his journalistic ethics – if a host of a comedy show needs to have journalistic ethics. Remember, though, that this is an era where there seems to be a revolving door between working for Fox News and running for President. Regardless, these visits have apparently not affected the way Stewart reports the news. He’s often highly critical of the president. He was critical of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. He was critical of the president’s handling of ISIS. Most notably, he was critical of the administration’s handling of the Veterans’ Administration. In fact, Stewart’s coverage of the VA led to some major changes within the administration.
Stewart’s visits to the White House didn’t always (or perhaps ever) change policy, but it is refreshing to have a president who looks past polls and tries to relate to younger voters, even if it’s through a TV personality.
Here’s the video of their last public meeting on The Daily Show.
Featured image via YouTube video screen capture.