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December 27, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In what today’s (Monday) New York Times suggested was an Edward R. Murrow/Walter Cronkite moment in terms of the media’s influence on public policy, comedian Jon Stewart’s recent broadcasts urging passage of the 9/11 “first responders bill” are being credited for saving the bill from almost certain defeat. “I’ll forever be indebted to Jon because of what he did,” Kenny Specht, founder of the New York City Firefighter Brotherhood Foundation, told the Times. Mayor Michael Bloomberg added that Stewart’s plea for Republican opponents of the bill to put aside politics “and get this done for America was, without a doubt, one of the biggest factors that led to the final agreement.” In a Dec. 16 broadcast on Comedy Central entirely devoted to the bill that sets aside federal funds for the health care of first responders to the 9/11 terrorist attack, Stewart scored Republican lawmakers who had blocked the bill on grounds that it should be funded by spending cuts. Their obstruction, he said, represented “an outrageous abdication of our responsibility to those who were most heroic on 9/11.” Stewart also laid into television anchors whom he accused of failing even to mention the bill for two months. “Each network subsequently covered the progress of the bill,” the Times observed, “sometimes citing Mr. Stewart by name.”