Jon Stewart is the host and Executive Producer of Viacom-owned Comedy Central's satiric Monday-through-Thursday-night "newscast," The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Jonathan Stuart Liebowitz was born in November 1962 in New York City and grew up in Lawrenceville, New Jersey. His father Donald, a physicist for RCA, and mother Marion, a teacher of gifted students, divorced when Jon was nine. He thereafter was raised by his mother.
Stewart attended the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, graduating in 1984 with a degree in psychology. "My college career," he later told New York Magazine, "was waking up late, memorizing someone else's notes, doing bong hits, and going to soccer practice."
After college Stewart worked in a cancer research laboratory, then on a New Jersey state encephalitis project. He also found work as a bartender, a contract administrator for the City University of New York, and a puppeteer for disabled children.
In 1986 Stewart moved to New York City, where he took a job as a van driver for a caterer. In 1987 he went on stage for the first time, doing a five-minute comedy routine during an "open-microphone night" at the Bitter End club. He used the stage name Jon Stewart. "I'm not a self-hating Jew," he would later tell Newsday. "I just thought Leibowitz was too Hollywood." Stewart soon found regular work on stage at Stand-Up NY and then at Caesar's Palace.
By the early 1990s Stewart began appearing on television as host of Comedy Central's Short Attention Span Theater and then in 1992 as host of MTV's You Wrote It, You Watch It.
In 1993 Stewart was one of the finalists to replace his friend David Letterman on NBC's late night show but lost out to Conan O'Brien. Stewart then became host of MTV's half-hour The Jon Stewart Show, which was cancelled after one season because of low ratings.
In 1994 the Viacom company Paramount offered Stewart his own hour-long syndicated program. Poor ratings led to this show's cancellation in 1995.
Stewart had played a minor character in the 1994 film Mixed Nuts, and shortly after his TV show's demise he signed a contract with Miramax to perform in movies. He has appeared since in a variety of films, including Wishful Thinking (1997), Half Baked (1998), Since You've Been Gone (1998), The Faculty (1998), Playing by Heart (1998), Big Daddy (1999), Committed (2000), Death to Smoochy (2002), and others.
When Stewart replaced comic Craig Kilborn on Comedy Central's The Daily Show in 1999, he reshaped this parody of network newscasts to suit his own unique style. "It's not fake news," Stewart would tell the Washington Post in October 2004. "We are not newsmen, but it's jokes about real news. We don't make anything up, other than the fact we're not actually standing in Baghdad. ... The appeal of doing the show is that it's cathartic."
During the 2000 presidential primaries, one of The Daily Show's comedian "correspondents" was included in the press entourage aboard Senator John McCain's campaign bus and interviewed the candidate. The show also hired former Republican Senator Bob Dole, and former Secretary of Labor in President Bill Clinton's administration Robert Reich, to cover the Republican and Democratic Conventions. The Daily Show's "Indecision 2000" coverage won a Peabody Award for outstanding campaign reporting, beating out more serious journalists and news programs.
Stewart openly declared during the 2004 presidential campaign that he would vote for Democrat John Kerry and called the war in Iraq a mistake.
Stewart's style of humor tends to be relatively gentle when poking fun at Democrats, but more pointed with regard to Republicans. While he regularly focuses a bemused sardonic eye on the foibles of conservatives, his chief criticism of Democrats tends to be that they are not liberal enough, or that they confront and oppose Republicans too weakly.
The co-creator of Stewart's The Daily Show is Lizz Winstead, who until March 2005 was co-host of a news and comedy program on Air America Radio, and today is a contributing blogger at the Huffington Post.
A 2004 Pew Research Center poll found that more than 20 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 cited The Daily Show and NBC's comedy show Saturday Night Live as places where they regularly learned presidential campaign news. When asked about this by Bill Moyers, Stewart responded: "A lot of them are probably high."
But because The Daily Show attracts a large audience and influences how the public views issues, politicians and political activists now make every effort to include Stewart's program among their media stopovers. In 2003, then-Senator John Edwards of North Carolina officially declared himself a candidate for President on The Daily Show.
On October 15, 2004, Stewart appeared on the CNN debate show Crossfire, where he grimly and repeatedly attacked the hosts who interviewed him. When one host, conservative Tucker Carlson, noted that Stewart had been embarrassingly submissive when he could have asked tough questions to Senator Kerry on The Daily Show, Stewart replied: "I was his butt boy." As the interview neared its end, Stewart referred to Republican Carlson obscenely as a "Dick."
In 2004 Stewart and his team of Daily Show comedian-reporters published their own book America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction. This book made best-seller lists despite being banned from some stores because it included a fake photograph that purported to show the members of the U.S. Supreme Court naked. This same gimmick was used in Jon Stewart's first book, Naked Pictures of Famous People (1998).
In May 2012, Fox News chief Roger Ailes said that Stewart ... basically has admitted to me ... that he’s a socialist."
In June 2012, of course that means nothing to Stewart as he continues to carry Obama's water and launch divisive class warfare attacks from the platform of a super PAC known as Comedy Central to attack Mitt Romney's wealth.
Stewart, who has a net worth of approximately $80 million, owns three opulent mansions whose combined value is $12.8 million. Actually, as the Daily Caller reports:
"He doesn’t technically own those homes: Using a trick mastered by countless one-percenters, the properties were purchased by private trusts. Stewart’s trusts are named after his pets. The super-wealthy often make big-ticket purchases through trusts in order to protect their other assets from lawsuits, diminish estate tax liability, and avoid public scrutiny."