According to American historical myth, when President Lyndon Johnson heard CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite's Vietnam editorial to close out the CBS Evening News on February 27, 1968, LBJ stated, "If I've lost Cronkite, then I've lost Middle America."
It turns out that LBJ probably didn't say that, but in history classrooms all over America, that anecdote stands out as evidence of newscasts' effects on public sentiment and public policy.
The consistently high ratings for Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, especially among the millennial generation, are quite well documented. As early as 2004, it was clear that younger people were tuning into Jon Stewart for their news, foregoing the mainstream media.
So when I watched these two clips from the past two nights of The Daily Show, I was reminded of the LBJ "Cronkite Moment" myth. As Stewart delivers body blow after body blow to the Obama administration's handling of the IRS and AP wiretapping scandals, I realized it was a far cry from President Obama's multiple appearances on the show. For the president who won 60% of young voters' support in his 2012 reelection, the millennials' top news source skewering him has to feel like a breaking point. Just as LBJ did not actually have the Cronkite Moment, I doubt President Obama is discussing Stewart's skewering with his advisers.
But Stewart's frustrations inevitably reinforce and represent the Millennials' simmering skepticism of all things D.C., including the president who rode into office on hope and change.
From the Monday, May 13 episode: Stewart emphasizes how recent events undermine Obama administration credibility on discounting GOP attacks.
From the Tuesday, May 14 episode: Stewart wonders why it seems President Obama hears about Executive Branch scandals at the same time as the American people.