During the Tuesday taping of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart announced that he was stepping down as host after nearly 16 years. Comedy Central released an official statement on Thursday, confirming that Stewart's time at the satirical news program was ending, but not until later this year by saying, "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."
When he took over The Daily Show in 1999, Stewart increased the ratings by 400 percent with his ability to blend humor with current world news. He earned 20 Primetime Emmys not only with the moments that he made his audience laugh, but the times provided serious insight and made sense of seemingly inhuman events. Here are Stewart's best Daily Show moments from when he got serious.
Recovering From September 11
The first episode to air after the 9/11 terrorist attacks on September 20 began with no introduction. Prior to the attacks, the introduction included footage of a airplane flying towards the World Trade Center, but was cut immediately following 9/11. Stewart spent the first nine minutes of the show teary-eyed and remarked: "We start the show tonight by asking you what we have asked every American, including our audience — and that question is 'Are you okay?'" He ended his statement by saying "…The view from my apartment was the World Trade Center…and now it's gone, and they attacked it. This symbol of American ingenuity, and strength, and labor, and imagination and commerce, and it is gone. But you know what the view is now? The Statue of Liberty. The view from the south of Manhattan is now the Statue of Liberty. You can't beat that."
Putting ISIS and Ebola in Perspective
Amidst the panic of ISIS and Ebola virus threats last year, Stewart took the opportunity to dial in on problems such as heart disease — and pointed out that it kills 600,000 Americans each year but was not receiving any news coverage. Stewart gave a reality check to the media by stating, "That's like Milwaukee disappearing every year — if you took all the Americans killed by ISIS and ebola — and added almost 600,000 to it. All we ever hear is, 'we must do whatever it takes' to save American lives,' unless it's stopping the things that are actually killing Americans."
Making Sense of Michael Brown and Eric Garner
After it was announced that a Staten Island grand jury would not indict the police officer responsible for choking Eric Garner, Jon Stewart found himself speechless for maybe one of the first times ever. This news came on the heels of the ruling that there would also be no indictment of the officer who shot Michael Brown in the Ferguson, Missouri case. "I honestly don't know what to say," remarked Stewart. "If comedy is tragedy plus time, I need more fucking time."
After the terrorist attacks on the satirical Parisian magazine, Charlie Hebdo, in January, Stewart delivered a heartfelt statement about the right to free speech and satire saying, "comedy should not be an act of courage," and "this is a stark reminder that for the most part, the legislators and journalists and institutions that we jab and ridicule are not in any way the enemy…Our goal tonight is to not make sense of this, because there is no sense to be made of it, but to carry on."
Stewart was also able to get serious and admit when he was wrong. After causing a stir by calling President Harry S. Truman a "war criminal" for dropping the atomic bomb in the April 28, 2009 episode, he opened his next show with an apology. "The other night we had on Cliff May. He was on, we were discussing torture back and forth. Very spirited discussion — very enjoyable. And I may have mentioned during the discussion we were having that Harry Truman was a war criminal. And right after saying it, I thought to myself that was dumb. And it was dumb. Stupid in fact. So I shouldn't have said that, and I did. So I say right now, no, I don't believe that to be the case. The atomic bomb, a very complicated decision in the context of a horrific war, and I walk that back because it was in my estimation a stupid thing to say."