In my listening to the "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" replay on XM radio yesterday, I heard one of his panelists making that observation. Her argument being basically that 'if Jon Stewart had been around, the Clinton campaign wouldn't have gotten away with the Barack/kindergarten letter story.'
For a moment it sounded silly, like a child saying 'Ooooh, it's a good thing mom didn't see you,' but then I realized that the panelist's observation had the added quality of being … true.
While I'm not sure that the presence or absence of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would have changed the tactics being engaged in between the presidential contenders, I'm absolutely certain that the tone of the race is different.
And it's not just their nightly shtick. The impact of the "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" was not just in their late-night broadcasts, but the playing and replaying of their skewering on the cable networks for the day after. And that skepticism didn't stop after the clip – it bled into the news coverage, as well.
They gave the serious newspeople an out, an excuse – the producers and anchors could run the material that said what they couldn't. They were the outsourcing of sanity and perspective in an all-too-often surreal and laughable political environment. Sometimes the political day-to-day deserves a bleep here or there, you know?
So though I seriously doubt that a particular Democrat or Republican will get through the primaries due to the lack of skepticism that Stewart and Colbert add to the mix, they certainly are going to have a smoother path.
And that's not funny at all.