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Jon Stewart: Shades of Edward R. Murrow?

Although he has repeatedly insisted that his is not the role of a straight-up journalist and that he has no designs on a conventional political career, that doesn’t stop people like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg from casting Jon Stewart in a nobler light than Stewart himself is wont to do. What’s more, according to one Syracuse University academic, the “Daily Show” host might be compared to a couple of giants of the journalistic trade.

This latest round of accolades stems from Stewart’s role in reminding legislators on Capitol Hill, even from his perch at Comedy Central, that the 9/11 responders’ health care bill that was just passed should not fall between partisan cracks before the 111th Congress adjourned. –KA

The New York Times:

Mr. Bloomberg, a frequent guest on “The Daily Show,” also recognized Mr. Stewart’s role.

“Success always has a thousand fathers,” the mayor said in an e-mail. “But Jon shining such a big, bright spotlight on Washington’s potentially tragic failure to put aside differences and get this done for America was, without a doubt, one of the biggest factors that led to the final agreement.”

Though he might prefer a description like “advocacy satire,” what Mr. Stewart engaged in that night — and on earlier occasions when he campaigned openly for passage of the bill — usually goes by the name “advocacy journalism.”

There have been other instances when an advocate on a television show turned around public policy almost immediately by concerted focus on an issue — but not recently, and in much different circumstances.

“The two that come instantly to mind are Murrow and Cronkite,” said Robert J. Thompson, a professor of television at Syracuse University.

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