The Daily Show Talks Tech: Why Geeks Will Miss Jon Stewart
Jon Stewart, legendary host of The Daily Show, is hanging up his spurs, with Trevor Noah taking over as host. Over a 16-year career, he has come to be known for his trademark wit, his political commentary, and his image of trustworthiness.
While you may not personally agree with his politics, or appreciate his sense of humor, millions of viewers have tuned into his show week in, week out for more than a decade. Jon Stewart often discussed technology, so let’s take a look back at some of his best tech-related moments.
When He Mocked Google Glass, Facebook, & Instagram
Why settle for poking fun at one technological icon when you can do it with three? At the height of the Google Glass craze , Stewart and his team mocked what the augmented reality experience would be like. “And let me tell you something,” Stewart chuckles. “In New York City? That m*****f***** is going to get hit by a car.” This wouldn’t be the last time Stewart mocked “Glassholes”.
Meanwhile, in other news that day, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion. “A billion dollars of money?” Stewart asks. “For a thing that kind of ruins your pictures?”
And then Jessica Williams takes over. Enjoy.
“Access of Evil”: On Net Neutrality, Google, & ISPs
Now that Net Neutrality is enshrined in law , you might not even understand what the fuss was about. But in 2010, it was a big issue. In his characteristic style, Stewart explains why Net Neutrality is important and why you should care about it, complete with rib-tickling moments peppered throughout.
The video is worth watching even now because while it’s the law in America, there are several other countries where Stewart’s arguments are still valid, even if the examples don’t fit perfectly in context.
When He Schooled Everyone on SOPA, After Being Schooled Himself
This was one of the incidents where Stewart’s editorial independence came through. Comedy Central, the channel that broadcasts The Daily Show, is owned by Viacom. Viacom was an active supporter of SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act. But in January 2012, Stewart took up the cause of SOPA activists in his main monologue, which you can watch above.
The awesome part? A few days before that, an audience member asked Stewart why he hadn’t talked about SOPA and PIPA (Protect IP Act). That audience member recounted the experience on Reddit, saying Stewart acknowledged he didn’t know much about it and promised to look into the issue when he asked the question. Imagine his surprise when Stewart spent eight minutes talking about the SOPA and PIPA blackout protest and what the acts actually mean.
When He Defended Physical Books Against Jeff Bezos
While the current generation thinks books suck and ebooks rule , the Paper vs. Digital debate is not ending any time soon. And Stewart is firmly on the “feel and smell of paper” side. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos came on the show to demonstrate the new Kindle 2 and all of its many features.
Stewart summed up the emotional argument of physical books better than anyone else: “When I was a kid and I moved, I had nothing except these boxes of books. It made me feel like, in my time on Earth, I had accomplished something.”
When He Blasted Foxconn and Our Own Morals
You might love the iPhone 6 Plus (despite its tendency to bend ), but do you know where it comes from? Apple and most other consumer tech companies outsource their manufacturing to China, and the biggest factory there is run by Foxconn. The work conditions in China’s cheap labor market are abysmal — a worker claimed she had to assemble one part of a phone 5,200 times a day, working 35 hours straight, at 31 cents an hour — and Stewart does not hold back in his condemnation of these practices.
Pointing out that protesting against this would earn the worker a death sentence, Stewart asks, “I have a question. What’s the difference?” Stewart also addresses the moral dilemma that comes out of this: should you give up your iPhone, and your Xbox, and all your gadgets? And of course, he asks Siri to provide the answer.
When He Took On Apple… Repeatedly
Since taking over in 1999, Jon Stewart’s reign at The Daily Show has coincided with the fall and rise of Apple as a technology giant. Naturally, Stewart has dedicated a lot of air time to America’s favorite tech company, so we decided to pick some of his best moments…
“Appholes”: The Gizmodo Leak
In 2010, Gizmodo leaked the iPhone 4 after an employee left it in a bar, which led to Apple launching a police investigation and raiding the editor’s house. Not a cool move, especially for an anti-authoritarian company like Apple, at least according to Stewart.
He ripped into the company for becoming “the man” that the company used to rage against in awesome ads , and saying this issue mattered enough to be talked about in the mainstream media. As usual, he had a humorous suggestion for Apple too: “If you want to break down someone’s door, why don’t you start with AT&T? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!”
Hallelujah, iPhone Comes to Verizon!
Stewart’s hatred for AT&T reached peak hilarity when Apple announced the iPhone would also be available on Verizon. Blasting the network issues that plague AT&T’s network on the iPhone, Stewart reacted to the news by stretching his arms wide, looking up skywards, and yelling “Freedom!” It’s followed by entertainment powerhouse John Oliver interviewing other frustrated AT&T users, which is as hilarious as Stewart at his best.
Interview with Walter Isaacson
The authorized Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson is one of the best non-fiction books about technology . Stewart invited Isaacson on his show to talk about the biography and Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs. The interview brings forth a skill that is not acknowledged as much as it should be: Stewart’s interviewing skills.
He discusses the famed “reality distortion field” of Steve Jobs, the difficulty of working with someone who is dying, and discussing whether Jobs used crying to manipulate people. And just for good measure, there’s a dig at The Daily Show staffer John Hodgman, who starred as “PC” in Apple’s infamous Mac vs. PC ads.
“Tax Code Nano”
While Apple levies an Apple Tax on its gadgets, Apple doesn’t like paying taxes itself. So CEO Tim Cook went to Washington when the company was accused of avoiding taxes on over $100 billion in income by keeping it in offshore accounts. As senators fawned over the company, Stewart was taking no prisoners, blasting everyone in sight in an epic rant that has to be seen to be believed.
When Bill Gates Left Abruptly
On January 29. 2007, Bill Gates was on The Daily Show talking about the new Windows Vista . Usually, when Stewart is done with the interview, the guest remains seated; Gates, however, got up and left, probably not knowing about the tradition. Not one to let an easy joke slip by, Stewart opened the next day’s show with the clip embedded above.
When He Video-Chatted “Live” on Chatroulette
Chatroulette, the video chat service for strangers, is notorious for its lack of security. You should know how to protect yourself on Chatroulette since users can unknowingly find themselves face-to-face with people looking for adult chats, often in compromising positions. Stewart decided to dive head first into the service and see whether that actually happened. And he found some faces he recognized.
When He Ranted About LinkedIn Invitations
Look, LinkedIn is an awesome résumé tool , but those constant invitations landing in your inbox are incredibly annoying. And Stewart feels your pain. “I thought it was an email inbox flooding service whose sole purpose in life was to remind me that a guy I went to high school with would like me to join LinkedIn so I can spam everyone I ever met.”
It’s a short segment, but it’s so worth it. As All Things Digital wrote at the time: “Good news, LinkedIn! You led The Daily Show last night … Bad news, LinkedIn! You led The Daily Show last night.” ‘Nuff said.
When He Fought for Gamers Against Congress
There’s a generational gap with video games, and, quite often, you find those in power talking about their negative effects, citing aggressive tendencies and a desensitization to violence. However, we know that video games can help develop life skills , and Stewart took up the cause of the gamers everywhere. As politicians in the United States Congress debated the issue, Stewart busted myths and explained the video game rating system.
When He Explained the Internet of Things
If you have difficulty understanding the concept of the Internet of Things (IoT), watch Stewart’s interview with David Rose, MIT Media Lab researcher and author of a book on IoT gadgets titled Enchanted Objects.
Rose demonstrates some of these smart objects that can change the future, and Stewart plays the role of the everyman. He questions Rose about security concerns with IoT , about the loss of the human factor, and raises some great thoughts on the subject. The clip above is the short version, but we recommend you check out the extended interview.
Your Moment of Zen
This is our brief look back at 16 years of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart as host, but, as always, we’re keen to hear your thoughts as well. Please tell us in the comments below about your favorite Jon Stewart moment. Bonus points if it’s somehow related to technology!