Late-night funnyman and Daily Show host Jon Stewart reportedly took several secret trips to the White House to consult with President Obama before key moments in the president’s tenure.
According to Politico, Obama requested Stewart visit the White House for coffee during the October 2011 budget fight, and again requested the comedian’s presence shortly before issuing a warning to Russia on Ukraine.
Politico’s Darren Samuelsohn reports:
Jon Stewart slipped unnoticed into the White House in the midst of the October 2011 budget fight, summoned to an Oval Office coffee with President Barack Obama that he jokingly told his escort felt like being called into the principal’s office.
In February 2014, Obama again requested Stewart make the trip from Manhattan to the White House, this time for a mid-morning visit hours before the president would go before television cameras to warn Russia that “there will be costs” if it made any further military intervention in Ukraine.
To engage privately with the president in his inner sanctum at two sensitive moments — previously unreported meetings that are listed in the White House visitor logs and confirmed to POLITICO by three former Obama aides — speaks volumes about Stewart and his reach, which goes well beyond the million or so viewers who tune into The Daily Show on most weeknights.
Love Stewart’s jokes or hate them, he has proven to be a unique voice who is capable of turning in-the-weeds policy discussions into viral video sensations that the country is still talking about the next morning.
As the White House recognized, Stewart can, at times, be a more potent influence on policy than Obama himself. The 52-year-old funnyman is widely credited with changing how the government treated military veterans and Sept. 11 first responders and for canceling a hyper-partisan CNN talk show. His broadsides against President George W. Bush’s Iraq war and a series of Obama missteps had a searing effect on how Americans thought about Washington.
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