Jon Stewart: Unlikely Conservative Hero?

The comedian has been critical of the Obamacare website rollout. And with Stewart’s young audience, this could prove problematic for the president.

President Obama appearance on The Daily Show with host Jon Stewart on Oct. 18, 2012.
National Journal
Oct. 22, 2013, 6:26 a.m.

There’s an un­likely me­dia hero for con­ser­vat­ives fol­low­ing the stumbled rol­lout of the Obama­care web­site: Com­edy Cent­ral’s Jon Stew­art.

Stew­art, whose top­ic­al polit­ic­al rants have made him a fa­vor­ite among lib­er­als, in re­cent weeks has been an hon­est and harsh crit­ic of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion for its im­ple­ment­a­tion of the pres­id­ent’s sig­na­ture health care le­gis­la­tion.

His latest show Monday even­ing is now mak­ing the rounds among con­ser­vat­ive circles as a poin­ted take­down of the health care web­site’s mal­func­tions and Obama’s at­tempt to “pol­ish this turd.”

“Yes, ap­par­ently the Health­care.gov web­site has 99 prob­lems, but a glitch is all of them,” Stew­art said.

Sev­er­al con­ser­vat­ive voices, in­clud­ing The Blaze and Fox Na­tion, linked to Stew­art’s seg­ment. It also re­ceived some Twit­ter at­ten­tion from Re­pub­lic­an groups, as well.

And two weeks ago, it was Stew­art again whom con­ser­vat­ive me­dia hosts, pun­dits, and politi­cians alike cited after his in­ter­view with Health and Hu­man Ser­vices Sec­ret­ary Kath­leen Se­beli­us. There, Stew­art asked sev­er­al dif­fi­cult ques­tions of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial lead­ing the health care rol­lout, in­clud­ing why a one-year delay was gran­ted for some busi­nesses and not for in­di­vidu­als. Se­beli­us walked around many of the ques­tions, and con­ser­vat­ives jumped on it.

Dur­ing his con­ten­tious in­ter­view with MS­N­BC’s An­drea Mitchell on Oct. 8, Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., cited the comedi­an:

One is­sue we have, the me­dia won’t ask the ques­tion about why are you treat­ing fam­il­ies dif­fer than big busi­ness. You need Jon Stew­art on Com­edy Cent­ral to ask Sec­ret­ary Se­beli­us, ‘Hey, why won’t you treat these two equally?’ and she won’t an­swer it. That’s how pathet­ic news re­port­ing has come when they won’t ask tough ques­tions to the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

To be clear, Stew­art is not al­ways a sup­port­er of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion. In sev­er­al shows, he’s gone after Demo­crats for ap­par­ent in­com­pet­ence or hy­po­crisy.

But with Stew­art’s young­er audi­ence — a Pew poll in Septem­ber 2012 found that 39 per­cent of The Daily Show‘s view­ers are un­der 30 — this con­tin­ued badger­ing could be prob­lem­at­ic for the pres­id­ent. That same demo­graph­ic, Amer­ic­ans ages 18-29, were split on how well the health care ex­changes were work­ing on­line — 37 per­cent both say­ing it went well and went poorly, ac­cord­ing to a new Pew poll.

And the very people whom the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion needs to sign up for health care ex­changes are young, healthy people.

Watch the video from Monday night:

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