Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless released the following statement: "For the better part of the last two decades, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an 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."
Stewart will step down from The Daily Show sometime before the end of the year, when his contract expires. His announcement comes less than two months after former Daily Show correspondent Stephen Colbert famously left his own Comedy Central spin-off, The Colbert Report, to replace David Letterman on CBS' The Late Show. Another spin-off, The Nightly Show, featuring former Daily Show contributor Larry Wilmore, replaced The Colbert Report in January.
Stewart first joined The Daily Show in 1999 when he took over hosting duties from original anchor Craig Kilborn. During his tenure behind the desk, The Daily Show rose to incredible heights and became a staple for political news, especially among younger viewers, despite its satirical nature. After coming under fire for not conducting hard-hitting interviews with his political guests, Stewart kindly (and not so kindly) reminded critics that The Daily Show is considered a fake news program and that he's not a journalist, but a comedian whose duty it is to provide entertainment.
The news that Stewart is stepping down should not come as too much of a surprise. He took an extended leave of absence from the show during the summer of 2013 to direct the film Rosewater. John Oliver filled in as host for those 12 weeks before departing the program for his own show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, currently in its second season on HBO. While promoting Rosewater this past fall, Stewart alluded to a possible exit. "I think there are moments when you realize that that's not enough anymore, or maybe it's time for some discomfort," he told NPR's Terry Gross. However, it was a decision that clearly weighed heavily on him. "The minute I say I'm not going to do it anymore, I will miss it like crazy and I will consider that to be a terrible mistake I just made and I will want to grab it back," he said.
The Daily Show is currently the second longest-running program on Comedy Central after South Park and has won a total of 18 Emmy awards under Stewart's leadership. The program also won two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections.
Right now there's no telling who will take over for Stewart when he steps down later this year, but one thing is for certain: They're going to have extremely large shoes to fill.
Will you miss Stewart? Who do you think should replace him as the host of The Daily Show?
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