Trevor Noah Is The Only One Who Sees Trump For What He Is
Last week, Trevor Noah won me back with one line.
Before Jon Stewart left The Daily Show last August, I was a faithful viewer. I quite literally never missed an episode. It was my primary news source, frankly. In a media landscape rife with bias, clickbait and sensationalism, Stewart’s satirical broadcasts seemed — perhaps counterintuitively — the most honest, trustworthy, no-nonsense source for current-events coverage.
Toward the end of his run, in particular, Stewart seemed not to be pulling any punches. The segments in his final weeks were the work of an entertainer and idealist with nothing to lose leaving it all out on the field.
When Noah took the desk, the contrast was stark.
While his persona was affable, Noah’s tame, safe segments were a far cry from Stewart’s pointed, insightful wit and wisdom. Trying to give Noah the benefit of the doubt, I hung on for a couple months, but ultimately I diverted my attention to John Oliver’s meticulous, in-depth features on Last Week Tonight and Samantha Bee’s vitriolic, outraged, exceedingly clever axe-grinding on Full Frontal.
But last week, The Daily Show aired live from Philadelphia during the Democratic National Convention, and the novelty was compelling enough for me to tune in. During his first segment last Wednesday, Noah expressed a sentiment about the presidential race that has been bouncing around in my head and heart for the past several weeks — hell, months.
“It’s embarrassing that this is even a contest.”
With that one line, Noah demonstrated the unique perspective he brings to the post. His genuine incredulity that we actually consider this a choice — as opposed to an obvious right and wrong answer — could only come from an outsider.
In his DNC speech last week, President Obama highlighted this point: “People outside of the United States do not understand what’s going on in this election. They really don’t.” As a Canadian immigrant, with many dumbfounded friends and family back home, I can attest to this.
Noah continued, “Any objective person can see that of the two options, one is not an option.”
But in reality, not everyone can see it. I haven’t heard one other political commentator express contempt not just for what Trump claims to stand for, but for the entire premise of him as Clinton’s opponent. They’re criticizing Trump’s ideas, not the idea of Trump’s candidacy itself.
This is a critical distinction. Simply criticizing the things Trump says still frames him as a credible presidential nominee. Condemning the notion that he is, in any way, even close to the same level as Clinton frames him in the appropriate context: as a fraud and a con man who successfully hijacked the Republican nomination.
As someone less conditioned to the circus that is the average U.S. presidential election, Noah seems to be the only one that can see this. This “outsider perspective” was one of the main selling points leading up to Noah’s debut, but during the first months of his tenure, it seemed little more than a novelty. Last week, we saw how valuable that perspective can be.
On a recent episode of Real Time, Bill Maher said of the possibility of a Trump victory, “The enemy in complacency. Say it every day.” Between now and November, apathetic voters need to hear as much as possible that a Trump presidency is a clear and present possibility — and that they should be outraged by such a ludicrous proposition.
The stance Noah took last Wednesday night is crucial to communicating that point. Commentators need to take on Trump in a way that questions the very idea of him as a candidate.
So, from one outsider to another, Trevor, I’m sorry for not sticking it out from the beginning. And thank you, sincerely, for maintaining The Daily Show as the voice of reason so many of us depend on.