The Daily Show

Jon Stewart Announces Retirement from “The Daily Show”

It’s the end of an era not only at The Daily Show, but also for satire news in general. After 15 years of skewering politics, the media, and more, Jon Stewart announced his retirement from The Daily Show on Feb. 10. 

This announcement is not completely surprising. Stewart’s contract with the program was set to expire sometime this year, and he also took three months off last summer in order to direct his first film, Rosewater. But despite these factors, his impending departure still hits hard. This news also comes just two months shy of the end of The Colbert Report, a similar satire news program hosted by The Daily Show alum, Stephen Colbert. Stewart paved the way for “fake news,” as he referred to it, and introduced new audiences to what was going on when “real news” could not. 

“He’s drawn a younger audience into watching news,” said Lauren Payne, an adjunct professor of communication. “He starts a conversation.” Bringing in more and more young viewers and introducing them to new discussions has always been one of Stewart’s strengths. Regular news is too time consuming and dull for the social media generation, but Stewart was a unique voice that could break through the barriers. A Time magazine poll showed that the public ranked him as one of America’s most trusted newsmen. His ability to bring absurdities to light with a comedic edge and sincere touch has made him easy to follow and trust. 

“Colbert and Stewart leaving together is a beautiful tragedy,” said Casey Schellinger, a freshman. “They will be missed.” 

Stewart paved the way for the entire genre of satire news on television. With the launching pad of The Daily Show, many comedians have been able to go onto their own shows. Colbert, for example, spun the idea of the The Daily Show into something completely unique by taking the perspective of a character rather than reporting as himself. Former correspondents John Oliver and Larry Wilmore also found success in the genre: Oliver’s Last Week Tonight on HBO has risen to prominence for hard-hitting segments that sometimes become more news than satire, and Wilmore was able to launch The Nightly Show, which can be seen in Colbert’s previous slot. 

“Stewart’s an entertainer,” Payne continued. “He became a celebrity by reporting fake news.” 

While it is true that Stewart cannot truly be regarded as a journalist, his influence has managed to reach more viewers than many contemporary journalists working on television today. Just as news of Stewart’s retirement came out, the fallout regarding NBC’s Nightly News anchor Brian Williams came to a head. Williams, also regarded as one of the most trusted broadcasters on network television, was suspended for six months without pay after fabricating the story of his helicopter being shot down in Iraq in 2003. 

The irony of both stories coming out at the same time has not been lost. While the “real” newscaster let the public down and will likely end his career disgraced, the “fake” newscaster is set to leave still beloved and trusted by the public. 

Stewart’s goodbye will not be easy. The Daily Show and Comedy Central have big shoes to fill, and the job is not one that can be taken lightly. As Stewart stated in his retirement message, The Daily Show “doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host.” But whoever takes the desk next on The Daily Show, the era Jon Stewart ruled will never be forgotten. 

PHOTO TAKEN by Kevin Holton