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Jon Stewart's best moment wasn't on 'The Daily Show.' It was the day he eviscerated CNN.

"See, the thing is, we need your help. Right now, you're helping the politicians..."

Jon Stewart's best moment wasn't on 'The Daily Show.' It was the day he eviscerated CNN.

Jon Stewart changed the way I think about TV news.

He's always been a hero of mine. As he finishes his last week at Comedy Central, I wanted to reflect on the moment he opened my eyes to the way the world really works.

The most important thing he ever taught me wasn't on "The Daily Show."


It was on another show entirely. A horrible show. A show that represented everything wrong with our country's political discourse. The show that was the precursor to all the worst things on cable news today.

It was the CNN show "Crossfire."

All GIFs via CNN's "Crossfire."

"Crossfire," a debate show where partisan hacks yelled past each other, was and is the epitome of everything wrong with cable news shows. But it was basically every other cable news show, just on steroids.

Prior to Stewart's appearance on "Crossfire," I had a pretty simplistic view of politics. My guys were good, their guys were bad, and there was nothing in between. Everything was their fault. Their side was lying to hurt America.

Jon Stewart helped me realize how wrong I was.

On Oct. 19, 2004, Jon Stewart broke "Crossfire." For good.

Stewart had a history of making fun of "Crossfire," as he did with all irresponsible television masquerading as journalism on every single TV network.

So when the guys at "Crossfire," Tucker Carlson and Paul Begala, invited him to be on their show, Stewart seized the opportunity. And I grabbed my bowl of popcorn, sat back on my couch, and watched, transfixed.

What followed was 14 glorious minutes of television that eloquently expressed everything that had been in my head about the TV media (see "Crossfire," above) that I hadn't yet been able to express coherently.

For 14 minutes, Stewart held the media accountable for not holding politicians and corporations accountable.

You know how the pundits on these shows yell shrill talking points at each other, respond to questions people didn't ask, and ignore each other, and then the host goes to commercial without fact-checking anyone?

Otherwise known as "every cable news show ever." Politicians count on that.

Stewart pulled back the curtain for the viewers while pulling the rug out from under the hosts of the show.

Stewart shone a big 'ol spotlight on a problem with the media that hadn't been addressed so directly before: TV media works under the concept of "fairness," he argued, meaning these networks give both sides of an issue equal time regardless of the validity of those positions or their level of expertise or authority on a subject.

And Stewart, like myself and millions of other Americans, was just plain sick of it.

In short...

It.

Was.

Glorious.

And throughout the segment, he reiterated a phrase that sticks in my brain even to this day:

Then a miracle happened. The best part of this whole story?

It happened a few months later. On Jan. 5, 2005, a couple months after Stewart's "Crossfire" appearance aired, the show was cancelled.

And there was much rejoicing — specifically in my living room, where I probably did some sort of awkward victory dance.

The NY Times reported that then-CNN President Jonathan Klein said its cancellation was in part due to Stewart's appearance.

"Mr. Klein specifically cited the criticism that the comedian Jon Stewart leveled at 'Crossfire' when he was a guest on the program during the presidential campaign. Mr. Stewart said that ranting partisan political shows on cable were 'hurting America.'

Mr. Klein said last night, 'I agree wholeheartedly with Jon Stewart's overall premise.'"

Disappointingly, CNN's president didn't agree as much as he originally implied. CNN brought back "Crossfire" again. And then cancelled it, thankfully, again. But its spirit lives on in every mediocre, divisive 24-hour news cycle.

Here's the thing. Cable news shouldn't be dividing us.

Jon Stewart's appearance on "Crossfire" clearly explained that the media should be informing us and holding the people in power accountable.

All this time, I had been blaming the other side for our problems. But the reality is they wouldn't be getting away with it if our media were functional.

I can't blame the foxes for eating the chickens they guard in the henhouse when the media has a responsibility to make sure they don't work there in the first place.

Every news network does it. CNN isn't the only guilty party. Fox News does it. MSNBC does it.

Even today, every network lets their panelists say what they want without consequences. In the name of "balance."

So how should cable news hosts do their jobs?

If the Democrat says the sky is green and the Republican says the sky is plaid, do you want the host to say, "We'll have to leave it there"?

Or do you want the host to say: "Actually, that is factually incorrect. You both are either lying or misinformed. I won't be bringing you back on my show if you mislead people again."

Jon Stewart opened my eyes. We don't need to get rid of the media. We need the media to their job.

Jon Stewart made me realize that the divide between most Americans is a false one.

Letting these pundits speak for us, allowing them to pigeonhole all of us as "left" or "right," should not be allowed to happen. All of us have shades of gray.

It's a media-created cartoon, meant to keep us fighting among ourselves while the folks upstairs get away with whatever they want.

We're better than that. And until we hold the media accountable, the media won't hold anyone else accountable.

Thank you for 15 great years, Jon. I know you don't think you eviscerated anything and that you didn't make a difference, but you did. Thank you for forcing the media to occasionally do something right. Thank you for being the voice of reason and sanity that we all needed.

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Judy Vaughan has spent most of her life helping other women, first as the director of House of Ruth, a safe haven for homeless families in East Los Angeles, and later as the Project Coordinator for Women for Guatemala, a solidarity organization committed to raising awareness about human rights abuses.

But in 1996, she decided to take things a step further. A house became available in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles and she was offered the opportunity to use it to help other women and children. So, in partnership with a group of 13 people who she knew from her years of activism, she decided to make it a transitional residence program for homeless women and their children. They called the program Alexandria House.

"I had learned from House of Ruth that families who are homeless are often isolated from the surrounding community," Judy says. "So we decided that as part of our mission, we would also be a neighborhood center and offer a number of resources and programs, including an after-school program and ESL classes."

She also decided that, unlike many other shelters in Los Angeles, she would accept mothers with their teenage boys.

"There are very few in Los Angeles [that do] due to what are considered liability issues," Judy explains. "Given the fact that there are (conservatively) 56,000 homeless people and only about 11,000 shelter beds on any one night, agencies can be selective on who they take."

Their Board of Directors had already determined that they should take families that would have difficulties finding a place. Some of these challenges include families with more than two children, immigrant families without legal documents, moms who are pregnant with other small children, families with a member who has a disability [and] families with service dogs.

"Being separated from your son or sons, especially in the early teen years, just adds to the stress that moms who are unhoused are already experiencing," Judy says.

"We were determined to offer women with teenage boys another choice."

Courtesy of Judy Vaughan

Alexandria House also doesn't kick boys out when they turn 18. For example, Judy says they currently have a mom with two daughters (21 and 2) and a son who just turned 18. The family had struggled to find a shelter that would take them all together, and once they found Alexandria House, they worried the boy would be kicked out on his 18th birthday. But, says Judy, "we were not going to ask him to leave because of his age."

Homelessness is a big issue in Los Angeles. "[It] is considered the homeless capital of the United States," Judy says. "The numbers have not changed significantly since 1984 when I was working at the House of Ruth." The COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem. According to Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), over 66,000 people in the greater Los Angeles area were experiencing homelessness in 2020, representing a rise of 12.7% compared with the year before.

Each woman who comes to Alexandria House has her own unique story, but some common reasons for ending up homeless include fleeing from a domestic violence or human trafficking situation, aging out of foster care and having no place to go, being priced out of an apartment, losing a job, or experiencing a family emergency with no 'cushion' to pay the rent.

"Homelessness is not a definition; it is a situation that a person finds themselves in, and in fact, it can happen to almost anyone. There are many practices and policies that make it almost impossible to break out of poverty and move out of homelessness."

And that's why Alexandria House exists: to help them move out of it. How long that takes depends on the woman, but according to Judy, families stay an average of 10 months. During that time, the women meet with support staff to identify needs and goals and put a plan of action in place.

A number of services are provided, including free childcare, programs and mentoring for school-age children, free mental health counseling, financial literacy classes and a savings program. They have also started Step Up Sisterhood LA, an entrepreneurial program to support women's dreams of starting their own businesses. "We serve as a support system for as long as a family would like," Judy says, even after they have moved on.

And so far, the program is a resounding success.

92 percent of the 200 families who stayed at Alexandria House have found financial stability and permanent housing — not becoming homeless again.

Since founding Alexandria House 25 years ago, Judy has never lost sight of her mission to join with others and create a vision of a more just society and community. That is why she is one of Tory Burch's Empowered Women this year — and the donation she receives as a nominee will go to Alexandria House and will help grow the new Start-up Sisterhood LA program.

"Alexandria House is such an important part of my life," says Judy. "It has been amazing to watch the children grow up and the moms recreate their lives for themselves and for their families. I have witnessed resiliency, courage, and heroic acts of generosity."

When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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