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Will He Move the Needle? Will She?

Yesterday marked the return of Jon Stewart as host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, roughly 9 years after he retired from the gig. In his first show back, he took aim at both presumptive presidential candidates, starting with Joe Biden:

This guy couldn't remember stuff during his deposition. Do you understand what that means? He had no ability to recall very basic things under questioning. Biden's lost a step, but Trump regularly says things at rallies that would warrant a wellness check. The question then becomes, what the f**k are we doing here, people? We have two candidates who are chronologically outside the norm of anyone who has run for the presidency in this country, in the history of this country. They are the oldest people ever to run for president—breaking by only four years the record that they set the last time they ran!...

You know what? I think we've got a new name for election coverage. Indecision 2024: Antiques Roadshow. Alright, look, here's what I'm gonna tell you. We're not suggesting neither man is vibrant, productive, or even capable, but they are both stretching the limits of being able to handle the toughest job in the world. What's crazy is thinking that we are the ones, as voters, who must silence concerns and criticisms. It is the candidate's job to assuage concerns, not the voter's job not to mention them.

In short, Stewart pretty much picked up where he left off nearly a decade ago, when he was the source of the sharpest and most impactful political criticism on TV. With his return, and at the start of one of the most momentous election cycles in American history no less, the question is: Will he be as relevant this time around as he was last time?

The answer to that is, of course, unknowable right now. That said, while Stewart will executive produce all episodes of the show through 2025, at very least, he's only hosting on Mondays. This is also a somewhat different context than his original run, in that Stewart left his post just as Trumpism was getting underway. It's also possible that, at 60, Stewart has also lost a step. Not too many people stay on top of the comedy game into their senior years, unless their last name is Black or Carlin. For what it's worth, Stewart downplayed expectations when his return was announced, observing that even in his original run on The Daily Show, he had very little luck when it came to causing events to take his preferred course.

Meanwhile, there's also... Taylor Swift. We've already written something like four items about her this year, which is really four more than we expected or wanted. But we go where the news leads us. In her case, there's every chance that she could move the needle, since her fanbase is large, very loyal, and tends otherwise to not be politically engaged. If she really leans into trying to get her followers registered and voting, she could well have a palpable impact.

We bring this up again because someone who's proven to be pretty savvy about these things has made clear he agrees with us. That would be one Donald J. Trump, who posted this on "Truth" Social yesterday:

I signed and was responsible for the Music Modernization Act for Taylor Swift and all other Musical Artists. Joe Biden didn't do anything for Taylor, and never will. There's no way she could endorse Crooked Joe Biden, the worst and most corrupt President in the History of our Country, and be disloyal to the man who made her so much money. Besides that, I like her boyfriend, Travis, even though he may be a Liberal, and probably can't stand me!

The notion that Swift's Beatles-like success has anything to do with Trump is absurd, of course. He does have a small point though, because that law made it possible for say, Spotify, to make a blanket deal with her or her label to license all of her works in one contract instead of having a separate contract for each song. This makes life somewhat simpler for her manager and accountant. However, it is clear that he's scared witless of her, since lashing out like this is how he copes with fear. In view of this, Trump's allies are, in their own words, planning to wage "holy war" against Swift. That's a response that's very normal and very healthy, right? They might want to think twice, though, because Swift's fans, in addition to being very devoted, are very protective. Attacks UPON her might do even more to drive her supporters to the polls than lobbying BY her. (Z)

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