How influential a force on young American public opinion is comic Jon Stewart, who on Thursday wraps up 16 years as host of The Daily Show news satire? So influential that he was invited to the Oval Office twice in recent years for secret conversations with U.S. President Barack Obama, the Politico website reports.
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Before the first meeting, in October 2011, Stewart joked to his escort that he felt like he was being called into the principal's office. The second tete-a-tete with the president came in February 2014. The meetings were recorded in the White House visitor logs and confirmed by three former Obama aides.
“I’d be hard pressed to think of a person [in the media] who spoke with the same amount of authority to that big of a group of people,” said Eric Lesser, a former Obama White House aide who is now a Massachusetts state senator.
On the eve of Stewart's departure, even Republicans were paying tribute to the liberal satirist.
“He’s a modern day Will Rogers and Mark Twain,” said GOP Sen. John McCain, a frequent guest on Stewart’s show.
Not all Republicans, though.
Said GOP Sen. Jim Inhofe, who caught Stewart's verbal spitballs last winter after throwing a snowball in the Senate to illustrate the "fallacy" of manmade climate change: “I’ve never seen him. There’s a lot of liberal press I just don’t pay attention to.”