In commemoration of the 11th anniversary of 9/11, we wanted to present this flashback video clip of Jon Stewart speaking in the monologue of the first Daily Show episode filmed after the terrorist attacks. The monologue goes down as one of the most powerful moments in recent television memory.
Stewart, a resident of lower Manhattan, is visibly shaken up through the entirety of the close to 9-minute monologue, crying at various points throughout the interview as he seeks to make some semblance of sense of the tragedy for viewers. Stewart tells the audience that his apartment used to look out onto the Twin Towers themselves, so the attacks clearly hit close to home.
We selected this clip because Stewart speaks to the heart of what it means to be in the media business during a time of national tragedy. He grapples with the role and value of entertainment, punditry, satire, and making people laugh at a time of grievance, and highlights the conflict that every media outlet feels when reporting on horrible events.
PolicyMic obviously was not around back in 2001 during 9/11, but in our short existence, we have also experienced tough moments, most notably the recent Batman movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado. We also felt the sense of ambivalence that Stewart speaks about when writing about this tragedy. We know many of our pundits felt that too.
Stewart has become one of the leading voices of our generation, and on this issue, we think he is spot on. While difficult to watch, we encourage you to view the clip in its entirety. We'd love to hear your thoughts below.
Seeking to bring some feeling of comfort and hope to viewers, Stewart talks near the end of the clip about the value of democracy, and the power of individuals and community in the face of terror. He says, "All this talk about these guys are criminal masterminds ... it’s a lie. Any fool can blow something up. Any fool can destroy. But to see these guys, these firefighters, these policemen, these people from all over the country literally with buckets … rebuilding .. that is extraordinary. And that’s why we’ve already won. … It’s democracy. They can’t shut that down.”
This may very well be Stewart's finest moment as a media personality, and his message rings true, even 11 years later.