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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 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.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.

Family

Two sisters ask their stepmom to adopt them with sweet memory book

"We were already calling her mom because it felt so natural."

Gabriella Ruvolo/TikTok

Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo asked their stepmom to adopt them in a touching video.

Sisters Gabriella and Julianna Ruvolo know that they're extremely lucky. Their stepmom Becky Ruvolo has been there for them for most of their lives and it's clear that they're grateful to her for it. On May 9, Gabriella posted a video to TikTok to share the very special way the young women honored their stepmom for Mother's Day.

In the short clip, you can see Becky flanked by the two girls, flipping through a book. On the video are the words "After 12 years… we finally asked our step-mom to adopt us." As Becky goes through the pages, you can see her becoming increasingly more emotional before she gets to the last page. By then, all three of the women are crying.

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