If you never got a chance to go to a taping of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, you’ll at least be able to visit the set after Stewart ends his 16-year run as host today. The set is being donated to the Newseum, where it will go on display at some as-yet-undetermined future date.
As for the place of the set in a museum whose stated mission is to promote the freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment, Cathy Trost,the Newseum’s senior vice president of exhibits and programs, explained in a statement why Stewart’s set is a great fit:
From “The Daily Show” anchor desk, Jon Stewart dissected the news with blistering wit and wisdom as millions watched. He also was a voice for a strong and free press, and against the silencing of journalists by repressive regimes. We are thrilled to accept the donation of these artifacts to the Newseum collection, because they are part of America’s cultural and media history, telling an important story about how political satire and news as humor made “The Daily Show” a trusted news source for a generation.
Stewart has been the subject of many hagiographic recollections on his work and impact in the days leading up to his final show. In Columbia Journalism Review, Charles Kaiser, reflecting on the post-Stewart news satire landscape, writes that, “it’s hard to imagine anyone puncturing all of the inflated egoes of the political-journalism complex as comprehensively as Stewart did.” Writing in The New Yorker, David Remnick calls Stewart “heroic and persistent” in his efforts to “expose our civic bizarreries.”
On any given night, a quick montage of absurdist video clips culled from cable or network news followed by Stewart’s vaudeville reactions can be ten times as deflating to the self-regard of the powerful as any solemn editorial—and twice as illuminating as the purportedly non-fake news that provides his fuel.