Today was an emotional day. Evening news lost one of its most intelligent, insightful, entertaining anchors. And I don’t mean Brian Williams, who was suspended today for 6 months without pay.
No, I mean Jon Stewart. He announced today that after 17 years in the trenches, he will be leaving The Daily Show later this year. And I’m heartbroken. He is my mainstay Monday through Thursday nights. He tells me what is important, what I need to be concerned about. He explains complicated issues in ways that are both entertaining and easy to understand. He takes mainstream media to task when they don’t toe the mark. He happily skewers anyone who needs to be taken down a peg, from the president of the US on down, regularly putting pompous politicians in their place. And he is so good at all that that some politicians and most of his fans think of him as a mainstream news source. He is the people’s voice and their champion.
In 2008 the Pew Research Center reported:
When Americans last year were asked to name the journalist they most admired, a comedian showed up at No. 4 on the list. Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central and former master of ceremonies at Academy Award shows, tied in the rankings with anchormen Brian Williams, Tom Brokaw, Dan Rather and cable host Anderson Cooper.
The field has narrowed considerably since. And last fall there were even reports that he’d been approached by NBC about possibly hosting Meet the Press after David Gregory’s departure.
Stewart said last year he was getting burned out on The Daily Show, and after 17 years, that’s understandable. He’s mentored a number of young protegés and watched them go on to success elsewhere. It’s his turn now. He directed a movie in 2013. Perhaps he wants to make more. Or maybe he’s thinking about going into politics. The 2016 election season is already heating up, and he could run rings around half the people in Washington. Blindfolded. And backwards. In a way, that’s what he’s been doing for the last 15 years.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s time he put his considerable talents into a legitimate news program.
I don’t know what I’ll do without Jon Stewart and The Daily Show, but the world is his oyster. I can’t wait to see what he does with it.