The Daily Show and new host Trevor Noah are the subject of an in-depth critique at Slate, one that Noah surely won't be happy about. After four months in the job, he's not bad, he's just nowhere near the insightful host Stewart was, writes Willa Paskin. As a result, the show itself feels different as Noah and the writers find their way: He is "a Potemkin Jon Stewart, someone smooth and ingratiating who is reaching for unconverted viewers, instead of an inveterate political satirist preaching to the deeply informed." Too often, the jokes feel empty and superficial, more like those that would come from one of the late-night Jimmys, writes Paskin. Noah rarely goes for the jugular, and he never seems to get outraged as Stewart did. He's more "milquetoast" and "soothing," which is precisely the opposite of what viewers need in this crazy election year.
"Not so long ago, we would have learned of these bizarre happenings and thought, 'I can’t wait to see what The Daily Show has to say about this,'" writes Paskin. "Now, it’s only likely to have the eighth-best joke on the subject. You still may laugh, but an inessential Daily Show is a real loss." It's early in Noah's tenure, and he and his writing team still have time to figure out how to make his strengths work better for the show. He pays more attention to racial issues, for instance, with his best bit so far one that likened Donald Trump to an African dictator, writes Paskin. But, until then, the show is mostly a letdown. It looks like the Daily Show, even "mugs and winks" like the one of old, but Noah's version "has only a diluted point of view." Click for the full column.