In the heyday of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart and Fox News were mortal enemies. In fact, in 2015 he called the channel “a whale of a network — in that we’ve been chasing you our whole lives and just can’t kill you.”
So this afternoon, viewers might have been surprised to see the comedian pleasantly chatting with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith. It was Stewart’s first visit to the network since 2014, when he appeared on the now-defunct O’Reilly Factor. Smith started off by poking fun at Stewart’s combative past with Fox News, asking him, “Why are you here?”
But Stewart was visiting Fox News for a more serious reason. He’s been a vocal supporter of 9/11 victims and is pushing for Congress to renew the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund in 2020. If they don’t, says John Feal, a 9/11 first responder who also appeared on Fox News with Stewart, there would be life-threatening consequences for 9/11 survivors who are sick from having breathed in toxic fumes.
“If [the VCF] runs out of money and we don’t get the bill extended,” said Feal, “those who get sick after that, they’ll get the free health care under the World Trade Center health program but they won’t get compensated for their illnesses. This struggle, this fight, this pain and suffering is real.”
While some people outside of New York may feel somewhat disconnected from the events of 9/11, it’s still a day-to-day tragedy for victims.
“For them it’s never ended,” Stewart said. “For first responders, for veterans, for trade unions that were down there, for survivors, for volunteers, there’s still a ticking time bomb inside them.”
At one point, Smith even told the audience that he’d be keeping track of members of Congress who voted no on renewing the Victim Compensation Fund.
Stewart’s rare Fox News appearance comes close to the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. In 2001, only nine days after the towers fell, Stewart aired this especially emotional episode of The Daily Show.
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