Jon Stewart maybe a standup comedian but as the anchor of the popular Daily Show, he has become one of the most powerful and trusted names in the news business. So last night after almost 16 years as the programs anchor, it came as a big shock when he announced on air that he would be stepping down later this year and leaving the show seen Monday through Friday on Comedy Central at 11 p.m. ET
Stewart, whose contract with Comedy Central ends in September, last night told his studio audience and the TV world that he was leaving the show.
Saying that “in my heart, I know it is time for someone else” to have the opportunity he had, Stewart told his audience that he was still working out the details of his departure, which “might be December, might be July.”
“I don’t have any specific plans,” Stewart added.“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.”
“I’m not going anywhere tomorrow,” Stewart said, “but this show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you.”
The 52 year old Stewart took over the Daily Show, in 1999 and never looked back. He hit his stride in 2000 after covering the Al Gore vs. George Bush Presidential Campaign, including the Florida Recount. Since then he has grown the shows ratings every year since.
Stewart became the” nation’s satirist in chief,” emerging as this generation’s Walter Cronkite or Edward R. Murrow. He was often mentioned as a possible replacement for a number of news anchors and program hosts.
Most recently, he was a leading contender to replace David Gregory as the host of Meet the Press, on NBC. The job went to Chuck Todd after Stewart told the network that he was not interested. His name came again as a possible replacement for his long time friend and NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams.
“The Daily Show” attracts over 4 million nightly viewers. It has won 19 Emmy Awards, two Peabody Awards, and inspired three popular spin-offs: “The Colbert Report,” “Last Week Tonight,” and “The Nightly Show.”