THR's 35 Most Powerful People in Media
In 2008, a New york times headline asked a provocative question: Is Jon Stewart the most trusted man in America?
In the nearly four years since, as TV news has provided further fodder for nightly ridicule and politicians (including Stewart’s college buddy Anthony Weiner) continue to disappoint, the question seems less of a stretch.
Stewart, 49, now drives the political conversation as much as any of the “straight-news” figures he regularly lampoons, deconstructing Mitt Romney’s tax returns and unearthing years-old videos of Newt Gingrich apologizing in Spanish for slamming those who speak “the language of living in a ghetto.”
For a certain segment of the country’s left-leaning pragmatists, the New Jersey native (born Jonathan Stuart Liebowitz) speaks a singular truth, highlighting government and press hypocrisy with a fearlessness not found in other media — and making his 2.4 million nightly viewers (tops among cable comics) laugh in the process.
It’s how The Daily Show has won 15 Emmys and a Peabody since Stewart took over in 1999, and it’s what makes him worth a reported $15 million a year to Comedy Central. Trust isn’t cheap.