"I would say we have a great show for you tonight," Jon Stewart said at the top of Monday's "Daily Show."
"Not … not sure that's the case."
The Comedy Central funnyman struck a serious tone addressing the tragic events in Tuscon over the weekend — while keeping things at least somewhat light for his studio audience.
"We have Denis Leary in studio, which is good," Stewart explained. "After watching the news all weekend, all I want to do is visit with an old friend and perhaps trade insults about one another's acting ability."
Stewart then tried to make sense of a senseless act, in the framework of a topical comedy show that's become — whether Stewart likes it or not — part of the political media ecosystem it sends up every night:
Unfortunately for our show, the closer we've gotten towards discussing current events, the harder it becomes in situations where reality is truly sad. I can give you a compilation of the day's news excesses, but it doesn't seem appropriate.
I don't know there is a way to make sense of this sort of thing. Did the toxic political environment cause this? A graphic image here, an ill-timed comment … violent rhetoric? I have no f—ing idea. We live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations. I wouldn't blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine.