"Victimhood is the entire brand!": Jon Stewart calls out GOP over the real "cancel culture"

"Everything the right says cancel culture does to them is actually being done by MAGA," the late-night host argued

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published May 21, 2024 11:53AM (EDT)

The Daily Show with John Stewart (Comedy Central)
The Daily Show with John Stewart (Comedy Central)

Jon Stewart weighed in on the controversy swirling around Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker, whose commencement speech at Benedictine College was criticized as misogynistic and homophobic. 

Butker in the May 11 speech referred to Pride month as a "deadly sin," bemoaned abortion rights, and encouraged the women in the crowd at the small, Catholic college's graduation ceremony to seek fulfillment in marriage and homemaking instead of professional careers. 

“Not the advice you want to hear when you’re $100,000 in debt, earning a degree in electrical engineering,” Stewart said at the start of Monday night's episode of "The Daily Show." “But I imagine that the cancellation of one Harrison Butker was swift and unforgiving at the White House.” Stewart followed by playing a clip of White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stating that Butker was still welcome to Washington D.C. to celebrate the Chiefs' historic consecutive Super Bowl win. 

“I’m sorry, what was that?" Stewart jokingly asked. "He can still go to the White House and be on his football team, and all that’s really happened is some people roasted him on TikTok? So I guess this is just kind of a passing distraction,” the comedian added, before playing various clips of conservative media portraying Butker as a beleaguered victim of the liberal left, who have attacked him for his Christian identity.

“My question to the right, I guess, is … Have you never been on the internet before? Because that’s all it is,” Stewart said. “My God, you’re all so thin-skinned. Look, Jerry Seinfeld took more s**t over the past two weeks promoting a Pop-Tart movie than Harrison Butker did for his entire speech.”

“Of course, nothing about the right-wing reaction is surprising," Stewart said. "Because the idea that there is an all-pervasive, all-powerful threat to free speech called ‘cancel culture’ has become a central tenet of modern conservatism. They celebrate their being silenced at conferences. They celebrate their being silenced on podcasts and streaming outlets. They celebrate their being silenced with over 700 book titles about ‘being canceled.’ Why are there so many of these f****ing books?”

Stewart began wrapping up the segment by declaring that "conservatives have an entire industry devoted to complaining about not being allowed to say the things they say all the time. Their victimhood is the entire brand!"

The late-night host underscored footage of various Fox News personalities claiming that people cannot state their opinions without being persecuted, followed closely by a series of clips of those same hosts doing just that some time afterward. 

"This is their identity now — constant victimization," Stewart said. "They say what they want and if you get upset about it, you don't believe in freedom."

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He argued that censorship affects every subset of the political spectrum equally, saying, "We are not censored or silenced. We are surrounded by and inundated with more speech than has ever existed in the history of communication."

"It is all weaponized by professional outrage hunters of all stripes, scouring the globe for graduation speech snippets, offhand comments during promotional tours, out of context comedy bits, lame marketing ideas, or any words and phrases they believe they can latch onto to generate monetized clicks," Stewart alleged. "Outrage is the engine of our modern media economy."

Stewart concluded the segment with a zinger aimed at former President Donald Trump, observing that while conservatives have blown the cancellation war waged by the left vastly out of proportion, the former president has been successful in canceling members of his own political party. Anyone who dares speak against Trump, Stewart claimed — such as those unwilling to support his fraudulent election claims, like former Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo. — will be ousted and lose their job. 

"Everything the right says cancel culture does to them is actually being done by MAGA," Stewart said.

"The Daily Show" airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central and streams on Paramount+

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

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Aggregate Cancel Culture Donald Trump Harrison Butker Jon Stewart Maga The Daily Show