Has Jon Stewart’s Relentless Attack on “Obamacare” Exposed His True Colors?

stewart-obamacareI can already tell this article is going to get many liberals up in arms.  Well, those who actually read it.  My experience has shown a decent amount of people only seem to read headlines, then make some asinine assumption about the article without reading what’s actually inside.  But I, Allen Clifton (a liberal), dare to question the motives of Jon Stewart?  Well, you bet your ass I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Jon Stewart.  I think he’s a brilliant, articulate guy who does far better journalism and reporting on a comedy channel than most “legitimate journalists” do at major media outlets.

That begin said, my admiration for the man is also why I’ve been a little shocked at his over the top bashing of “Obamacare” and some of the issues it’s experienced.  I’m not saying some of it hasn’t been warranted, but it seems he’s purposely going over the top with his reporting for the sake of attention.  And the fact of the matter is, when it comes to cable news, it’s always been my belief in the past that he’s one of the most truthful people on television.  Sure, he presents his views on the news in a hilarious manner, but at the heart of his reporting has almost always been an unapologetic honesty about whatever it is that’s going on in the world.

So he should be held to a higher standard, and called out when he fails to meet that standard.  Especially since I know millions of people count on him to “tell it like it is.”

The issues with the website are well documented and honestly they’re inexcusable.  As someone who’s fiercely defended this law for years I’m absolutely embarrassed by some of the information that’s come out leading up to the failed launch of HealthCare.gov.

My issue with Stewart doesn’t lie in his reporting about the issues the website has experienced.  Though I do feel at this point we’re beating a dead horse.  They’re embarrassing, there’s no excuse and they need to be fixed.  Constantly pounding away about them like it’s a “Breaking News Story” every single day accomplishes absolutely nothing.  But hey, they’re a real issue and the Obama administration should have done a much better job.  They deserve all the criticism they receive.

My issue surrounds his “shock” that President Obama misspoke about every American being able to keep their current health insurance.

I consider Jon Stewart to be an intelligent man, but come on.  People like Stewart had to know that claim wasn’t completely accurate.  How could every American keep their existing health insurance if the law put into place specific parameters that had to be covered—provisions that weren’t present on every American’s health care plan?

Jon Stewart — someone who’s supported “Obamacare” in the past — should have known this as well, correct?  I mean, he’s a very intelligent guy with nearly unlimited resources, I’m sure at some point someone said to him or he thought to himself, “Well, not all Americans will be able to keep their current plans because the Affordable Care Act requires specific coverage that not all current plans offer.”

Hell, I knew it wasn’t a completely accurate statement—which is why I’m not entirely shocked that about 5% of Americans are losing their old insurance plans.

So if I realized this fact, shouldn’t Stewart have realized it?  And if so, why wasn’t he calling it out before?  Why the sudden “shock?”  Is it just for ratings?

I really don’t know.  It could very well be possible that Jon Stewart never thought the law through enough to realize that Obama’s statement declaring every American would be able to keep their old insurance wasn’t entirely accurate.

But I just can’t believe someone as bright as I believe he is really didn’t think that far ahead as it relates to this law.

Which is why I’m a little disappointed to see his constant attacks against it.  Not because the rollout thus far hasn’t been terrible (it has been) but because I believe he should have saw this coming, possibly did, and now he’s profiting from it by constantly pounding on these issues night after night.

I will say that I may have lost a little respect for Stewart (not that he would ever care).  Not because he’s bashing President Obama — he does it more often than Republicans would like to have you believe and I fully agree with him that the website rollout has been a complete embarrassment — but because it seems he’s gone a little “CNN/Fox News” with his attacks on “Obamacare.”

And I just thought he was a little better than that.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • Francis Arevalo

    You do realize he is just telling it like it is. Obama miss-spoke, or lied, or was inaccurate. But Stewart made a strong point that even with its flaws the new las is “better than what we had”. Did you see the whole segment?

    • Brandon


      The author of this article was already displaying a hatred for those who don’t read his whole article and get up in arms yet the author of this article didn’t bother to watch the whole segment probably because he was so butthurt that Stewart was doing what he always does. Tell it like it is…

  • Jamie Carter

    He is in the end not a journalist but a comedian as a liberal journalist he would have been harsh as a comedian well it’s your issue if you take him seriously not his.

  • Matt

    Satire is a genre of literature, and sometimes graphic and performing arts,
    in which vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to
    ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, corporations,
    and society itself, into improvement.[1] Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon and as a tool to draw attention to both particular and wider issues in society.

  • Keith Holloway

    I don’t have a problem with how he is reporting. I am a liberal as well, and a believer in Obamacare, but he is right to report on the downside as well as the upside. Otherwise, he might as well go work for Fox news. Yes, the president misspoke, and I’m sure John Stewart knew it at the time. But at the time the president misspoke, there was no evidence that he was actually wrong. Sure we all knew that when the time came he would be shown to have misspoke. But now it is actually happening. Now we have the actual evidence, so now is the time to report it. As far as feigning surprise, you seem to forget rather quickly that his show is on comedy central, so even though he does usually tell it like it is, there is supposed to be an element of satire. I’ve lost no respect for John Stewart over this, but may have lost some for you.

    • lolkiller1

      This site is fox news. I hope this article reveals to some people just how aggressively biased Allen Clifton is. I thought one of the advantages us Democrats have over Republicans is our willingness to listen to both sides of the argument, but this person insists on acting like a left-wing Bill O’Riley

  • RRuin

    I’m with you on this. Stewart has gone over the top and not in a satirical way. Because in his satire he’s also left out facts and is feeding his audience as incomplete a picture of the ACA as any right wing nutter. Because he’s a comedian he doesn’t get a pass. Too many of his audience only get their “News” from him. And don’t think he doesn’t know it.

    • Betty J Rousey

      He knows it, and he says that he doesn’t want that at all. He wants informed viewers who can THEN laugh with him at the day’s events. He has said that every time he was a guest on any show.

  • Zsnyper

    I guess you missed the part where he mentioned that the “misspeaking” was bad, but nowhere NEAR as bad as the lies the other side has perpetrated against the ACA.

  • MTemplar

    Yah, like Zsnyper just said. Go back and watch it again. He explained that if he “misspoke” it isn’t nearly as bad as the bold face lies that the right and faux has been doing. He’s keeping it real and being a real progressive. A real progressive will stick with his principles and not do everything the lead says. For example, do you accept everything Obama does on drones? If so, then I’d say your view points may be a little off from a true progressive.

  • Joe bob

    Terrible article. You’re just nitpicking small details in Stewart’s argument to try and justify that you dislike his Obamacare reporting? Nice work using a Republican tactic: 1. Our plan didn’t work perfect 2. People noticed 3. Tell people they’re stupid for not noticing accurately why the plan didn’t work. That’s just ridiculous. Obamacare roll-out is a flop, liberal ball drop. Why did we fight and fight for this bill and not follow through with it? Stupid politicians only need to pass or block the bill, no accountability on the follow through. Jon Stewart points out the flaws on both sides, you just didn’t like what he said this time. Stop pouting.

  • Jeremy Privett

    The funny thing to me is that Obama didn’t lie, misspeak, and wasn’t actually inaccurate. Before “Obamacare” passed he said yo can keep your coverage. He is 100% accurate. If you had insurance and it did not change after the law passed… You can keep it. They were grandfathered. Shitty plans or not. The only plans cancelled changed after 2010 or were purchased after 2010. You can’t retroactively claim something is a lie because later it doesn’t apply.

    • Steph

      Thank you Jeremy. I was going to say the same thing. The people losing their plans are either plans that were created or change after 2010 or the INSURANCE company has made the choice to no longer offer that plan. No one seems to be mentioning that. I feel it is blame erroneously placed and that’s frustrating when someone like John Stewart, who normally calls out those overlooked facts and errors, fails to do so.

      • Skyhollower

        Jeremy and Steph, I think you hit the nail on the head. There is so much hiding behind the ACA, My company for instance has changed a couple of things they could have left alone, like their contribution. At the time he said certain things I am sure they were true and the insurance companies may have even said, “Sure, No Problem”, then saw they had an opportunity to use the ACA as a scapegoat. As with most things with good intentions the ACA is it counted on various cogs to work together, when one of those cogs falls out of place or gets jammed the whole system shuts down.

  • Bill

    Just like you said to read your entire article, I think you need to watch the entire segment

  • Kathy Williams

    You expect John Stewart to have known that the statement wasn’t exactly true because he is a smart man. Obama is also very smart so why didn’t he make a more accurate statement. I voted for Obama and would again but making such blanket statement was not a wise choice.

  • andrew

    He’s a comedian, not a journalist. And for the love of God, Clifton, proofread your articles before you post them. Have a little pride in your work. Silly grammatical errors make you seem like an angsty teenager.

  • seamonkeydoo

    Wait, so Stewart rips Obama for using his own words to hold him accountable, via clips from previous speeches (the “period” bit from a couple nights ago). But you’re arguing Stewart’s at fault for taking Obama at his word? That’s extremely lame. Besides, as others have pointed out, the segment was hardly a missive against the Affordable Care Act. This whole “shoot the messenger” thing is exactly what Fox News is famous for; you might want to take a good hard look in the mirror.

  • Nathan

    What Jon Stewart knew or didn’t know beforehand is completely irrelevant. He reported the facts in the same way he always does – by putting old and recent video clips of a public figure side-by-side to keep them accountable for their past statements. It might make us liberals uncomfortable when he does it to Obama, but so what? I’m glad he shines a critical light on the Left when it’s called for because otherwise he would be no better than Fox News.
    I read your article with a very open mind, but you really don’t make a compelling argument. You come across as whining because Stewart didn’t give Obama a pass for misleading the Ametican public, and your reasoning for that is not that Obama DIDN’T mislead the public, but that Stewart should have KNOWN that Obama misled the public a long time ago. That’s just plain stupid, sorry to say.
    I love this site, but this article is a FAIL.


    I am over it!
    I have a severe case of ObamaCare overload!
    What are they gonna talk about when it’s working?
    Even a Fox ‘News’ viewer, as dedicated to hating
    Obama as they are, have to be saying STOP already!
    It’s ALL ObamaCare , ALL the time. 24/7. They are just
    obsessed! Even the most brain dead fans have to have
    finally changed the channel by now, perhaps even turned
    to watching all the Duck Dynasty they DVR’d.

  • a. liberal

    Though Jon Stewart groused about Obama’s fabrication, he really let Fox News and their pundits have it for the bald-faced lies and deception about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that they have foisted on the American public. After all, Jon Stewart is a comedian first and foremost and when anyone is caught in the web of a fib it can be funny whether it is the mayor of Toronto denying and later admitting that he smoked crack cocaine or Barack Obama stretching the truth a bit. Had Obama only inserted the caveat “as long as your plan meets the new standards established by the law”. Sigh. Water under the bridge. This whole rollout fiasco has been disconcerting to progressives who want to see the ACA succeed. And, as Gene Robinson has pointed out on the op-ed page, eventually the benefits of the ACA will overcome all the negative publicity the botched rollout has engendered. Keep your fingers crossed.

  • richard blaine

    he’s a political comedian…. they tend to make jokes about presidents who make definitive statements that are later proven untrue. Get over it.

  • Sean Jones

    I see it as him making fun of the Republicans/ Teabaggers. He harps on it daily just like they do in hopes that more people will see just how rediculous their false arguments are

  • M Dee

    Stewart was correct to highlight Obama’s recent backpedal — Obama added a cavaet that he did *not* say before. Can’t knock Jon Stewart for pointing that out.

    Obama stated that he wasn’t taking away anyone’s healthcare … which was always the context of the “if you like your healthcare” line.

    There is nothing in the healthcare law that stops an insurance company from renewing its customers on the plans they had in 2009. The healthcare law allowed every coverage from 2009 to be grandfathered and avoid almost all of the new insurance changes. It is the insurance companies that choose to change the plans which means they must now follow the new changes. Insurance companies always had the right to end plans and Obamacare didn’t change that.

    So, sure Obama should have been more clear that “if you like your healthcare, you can keep it ….. as long as the insurance company doesn’t end the policy like it always had the right to do”, but that last bit was always common-sense — should it really have needed spelling out?

  • donovan

    Funny you are calling him out for the same thing you are doing now.

  • Adam Rosenfield

    So I know everything I want to say has been said, but i’ll repeat the parts I feel in my own words. Stewart is a Comedian, and really he is trying very hard to fight the idea that people come to him for news. He doesn’t like that (look at his interviews on other networks and with people who are supposed to be serious journalists). It isn’t his responsibility to point out that the insurance companies are cancelling plans using the ACA as an excuse rather than it really be our government cancelling plans. In fact, it is his MO to show people contradicting themselves. It isn’t his job to report that the insurance companies knew well and good that their plans did not cover the minimums and probably purposefully set it up to blame the president and the ACA. He is a comedian, not a journalist.

    Also, I don’t like the idea of justifying the President’s words. If he knew things would be different, why wasn’t he honest?

    Personally, I think they put in the grandfathered coverage and then assumed that insurance companies would comply with the ACA before they were forced to comply. Which is why I assumed they were given several years to comply.

    Another thing that is overlooked is that insurance companies cancel plans every year and in about the same numbers as they did this year. Instead of saying, “we don’t offer this plan anymore.” they are saying, “the Affordable Care Act made you lose your plan.”

    Anyways… rant over

  • Earl David Ratliff

    The first loyalty of a reporter is to the truth, in a relentless sense. Thus, there’s no harm in someone who we trust to relentlessly tell the truth doing so, even if it leads him to tell the friends shared by us and that reporter “dude y’all suck sometimes”.

    Jon is that “reporter” (though he’s merely a comedian – you don’t need the job title “reporter” to serve as a reporter) – and the friends he shares with us are sagely-minded policymakers.

    It disappoints me that anyone’s respect for a reporter would hinge upon how delicately said reporter performs his work: I see no good in asking him to back off. Good reporting requires us on some level to tolerate social gadflies, and a gadfly with a weak bite or a reluctance to bite is one that can’t do its job. Reporters’ fact-checking duties are very closely related to the old Socratic method, and we should value that.

    The flaw in CNN/Fox News reporting isn’t the constant accentuation of the negative: gadflies need to do that to keep us ever-vigilant against the ever-present problems in our wake. The flaw in CNN/Fox News reporting is much more base: it is a problem of lies being presented as truths. Often, those lies are used to improperly spread blame for a problem, or to claim a problem exists where no problem exists. Perhaps the biggest lie is the unspoken rule that everyone takes blame when bad shit happens in government, instead of merely those responsible.

    I don’t feel Jon’s ever lied, so I don’t feel we should criticize him.

  • Miller

    The author and others are lost when speaking about Jon Stewart. He is a comedian with a liberal ideology, but he is a comedian going for laughs on Comedy Central! He is not a journalist. Check out the YouTube video of Wallace from Fox News interviewing him. Stewart states this very thing. Of course I don’t really call Fox News journalism and they are hilarious, but they aren’t trying to be . . . I think.

  • t

    By the way, “The Daily Show” is a comedy show on the Comedy Channel. It is not a news program and does not have to adhere to any lofty goals of impartial news reporting. Yes, it is a show about the current news but Jon Stewart has the flexibility to make fun of and point out the foibles of any current event. That is the point of the show.

  • TrueStoryBro

    5% of Americans. It’s over 4.2 million people and growing. More people have lost insurance than gained it due directly because of the aca.

    Also the memo from the IRS told Obama in 2010 that this was going to happen. So he’s either incompetent or, a liar.

    • Betty J Rousey

      No, it is entirely due to the fact that Insurance companies kept offering useless, low cost plans instead of major-medical plans. He didn’t take their greed into account, I never even knew they existed. I always thought he meant major-medical. Those being cancelled are much more kin to supplemental insurance.

    • Brian Derrick

      Well, there is the little detail of 127 million Americans with pre-existing conditions who now can be covered thanks to ACA.

  • blesche

    You wasted an entire article complaining about this without realizing that Jon Stewart is doing what any television journalist often does: talking about hot-button issues.