Jon Stewart leaves The Daily Show after over 16 years

Lisa Nhan, Managing Editor

The forerunner of late night fake news is stepping down. Jon Stewart, the anchor of the highly acclaimed daily satire news show, is leaving The Daily Show after spending more than sixteen years on the show. Trevor Noah, a young South African comedian, will become the new host.

“I don’t have any specific plans. Got a lot of ideas. I got a lot of things in my head. I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people,” Stewart said, in his official announcement on his program. “I’m not going anywhere tomorrow, but this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you.”

Stewart’s contract with the Comedy Central show ends in September. For Stewart, he feels that, “it is time for someone else.” Though, there are no official dates for his departure as the details are still being worked out. Stewart claims that this is not a retirement for him, and that it is a chance to pursue other interests. In the summer of 2013, Stewart had left the show for a while to direct his first film Rosewater, which tells the tale of journalist Maziar Bahari’s imprisonment in Iran. Stewart claims that his leave comes out of an need for “more flexibility.”

“I think I got to a certain point where I thought you shouldn’t stay somewhere just because you can,” Stewart said in an interview during Employee of the Month with Catie Lazarus.

The show, according to the official announcement from Comedy Central, will continue to air.

“Through his unique vice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of The Daily Show until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family,” Comedy Central’s president Michele Ganeless said in a network statement.

Stewart is acclaimed for giving The Daily Show its sharp satire voice that calls for justice in politics, global and domestic. While Stewart and those who work on the show maintain that they are not journalists and the ultimate goal of the show is to entertain, Stewart has still emerged as a trusted and influential figure in today’s media.

“What I want to see there is the next iteration of this idea. I feel like the tributaries of my brain combined with the rigidity of the format. I feel like I used permutation of that I could possibly use…I would love to see the next iteration of that, like John Oliver was able to apply our process to a more considered thing, and it’s exciting to watch it evolve and see it mutate and change and fill different gaps and ideas. That’s the part that I’m looking forward to seeing,” Stewart, on his hopes for the next host, said.

When Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show in 1999 to replace Tom Snyder on The Late Late Show, Stewart took over and that year, ratings increased by 400 percent. Over the years under Stewart’s hosting and writing, the show has won 18 Primetime Emmy Awards. This includes winning the Emmy for Outstanding Variety Series ten years in a row and multiple awards for Outstanding Writing of a variety series. It is the second longest program currently on Comedy Central after South Park. According to the Pew Research Center, 74 percent of the show’s regular viewers between 18 and 49, 10 percent of the audience watch the show for its new headlines, two percent for in-depth reporting, and 43 percent for entertainment.

The show itself has had many spin offs such as The Colbert Report, which starred former correspondent Stephen Colbert and ran from October 17, 2005 to December 18, 2014. Other spin offs include The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, which replaced The Colbert Report’s time slot on January 19, 2015. Stewart, along with other writers of the show, published two books, first America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction in 2004 and then Earth (The Book): A Visitor’s Guide to the Human Race in 2010.

The Daily Show has had many iconic moments in its long history with Stewart. One of those moments was nine days after the September 11 attacks. The show had gone off air for nine days, and Stewart opened the show with a monologue that touched the hearts of many and helped Stewart emerged as an influential national icon.

“They said get back to work, and there were no jobs available for man in the fetal position…We sit in the back and we throw spitballs- never forgetting the fact that it is a luxury in this country that allows us to do that…The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center. Now it’s gone. They attacked it. They symbol of American ingenuity and strength and labor imagination and commerce and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can’t beat that,” Stewart, on the September 20, 2001 broadcast, said.

Throughout the years, Stewart has left his legacy on today’s global media and his departure from the show will leave many curious as to how anyone else will fill the shoes of his late night legacy.

“The thing I’ll miss the most I think is that sort of thoughtful conversation in the morning that turns into a rewrite dance party. That feeling of…we’re all bereft and we’re having a very tough conversation in the morning and then finding something by 4:30 or 5 in that rewrite room that still gives us that stupid, childlike jolt of joy, that…joy machine. That actual being on TV part has become sort of peripheral to the experience of making it. And I’ll miss the experience of making it much more than the experience of presenting it,” Stewart said.