Jon Stewart traveled to Washington, D.C. once again on Monday to lend his powerful voice to the cause of protecting benefits for 9/11 first responders. Alongside his friend John Feal, himself a first responder and advocate, Stewart made appearances on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. He also penned an op-ed for the New York Daily News that urged Congress to make the Victim Compensation Fund permanent.
The comedian and former Daily Show host has always remained disciplined when it comes to discussing this now 18-year crusade. But by the time he joined a bipartisan group of senators and representatives who have co-sponsored the “Never Forget the Heroes” legislation, Stewart’s anger and frustration at Congress’ inaction on this no-brainer issue were on full display.
Speaking directly to the reporters covering the press event, Stewart predicted that “tomorrow the 24-hour cycle will move on and you’ll be discussing the body language of Kim Jong Un.” With that in mind, he said, “I want to beg you, when we’re done here, anybody who is with a media outlet, anyone here who is a writer or has a platform—don’t talk to us, talk to the men and women who are sick and suffering right now.”
“You can amplify their stories,” he implored the media. “You can get their stories out to the American people, because trust me, if the American people in their busy lives had any sense that these shenanigans were going on, they would be outraged.”
Stewart went on to say that “we can cut through the nonsense,” noting that the bill’s passage will come down to “12 Republicans on the Senate side, that’s all this is. You get 12 Republicans on the Senate side and this bill goes through.”
“This is nonsense,” he added. “You guys know it, I know it. This is theater. We’re all down here today. There’s no reason to have dragged these people down here. There’s no reason to have to have these conversations. This is bullshit.”
During his cable news hits earlier in the day, anchors like MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell tried to get Stewart to denounce President Trump in one way or another—something he has not hesitated to do in the past. But this time, he refused to take the bait. “This isn’t about the president,” he told Mitchell. “This isn’t about ideology, and it’s not about partisanship.”
At the end of his press conference, Stewart made sure the cameras were all on him before he declared, “The Trump Justice Department is doing an excellent job administering this program.”
“I don’t know about anything else, I’m not going to comment on anything else,” he added. “But that’s why we’re in problem we’re in is the program works exactly like it’s supposed to. Now it’s Congress’ job to fund it properly and let these people live in peace.”