The former “Daily Show” host told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview airing Sunday that political pundits are “making a mistake” blaming Trump for the country’s divisive discourse, arguing they should turn their focus to the threat posed by much larger institutions that have dangerously embraced “the idea that power is its own reward.”
“I think we make a mistake focusing this all on Donald Trump, as if he’s … Magneto and some incredible supervillain that has changed the very nature and temperature of the U.S.,” Stewart said. “He’s just been an effective vessel, but he’s not singing new songs. … I think it’s a mistake to focus it all on this one individual and not to focus it more on the idea that power is its own reward whether it be in the financial industry or government. Power doesn’t cede itself, and unless we can figure out a better way to balance out that power … we’ll be vulnerable.”
Stewart, who recently launched a new show, “The Problem with Jon Stewart,” said it’s time the media moves away from the idea that “autocracy is purely the domain of Donald Trump.”
“I think we all have a bit of a tendency to grant amnesty to people that are doing things that we would prefer, even if that means that they’re doing things that are slightly undemocratic,” he admitted. “So I think our focus unhealthily on this one individual comes at the price of systems and dynamics that have been in place long before this cat ever learned how to surf those waves.”
The comment came in response to Tapper, who emphasized Trump’s ability to identify “weak points in democracy.”
“He is now endorsing candidates for secretary of state in battleground states, candidates who are all in on the big lie,” Tapper said, referring to the notion the 2020 election was stolen.
“If we have identified the pressure points where the guardrails look most vulnerable, that’s where we should be focusing so much of our efforts in terms of strengthening,” Stewart responded.
“The encouraging thing,” he added, ” is watching on a grassroots level, people that are really viewing it as something that they want to protect and that they want to strengthen.”
As for whether he thinks President Joe Biden is doing an effective job in office, Stewart said, “I don’t think anybody is.”