Unlike MacArthur's Old Soldier, Jon Stewart Won't Fade Away

While we’re at it, why don’t we bring Jay Leno back to “The Tonight Show” too?

The question arose -- in my mind only, as these things invariably do -- with the news this week that Jon Stewart is returning, MacArthur-like, to “The Daily Show.

Stewart’s homecoming is not quite the same as Douglas MacArthur’s “I shall return” promise in 1942 to someday return victorious to the Philippines.

Stewart’s might have been more like, “One day, I shall return!” And that is what he is doing -- returning to host “The Daily Show” for one day a week, according to an avalanche of breathless news reports.

Stewart’s return coincides with the ongoing presidential campaign season. No matter who eventually runs, Stewart’s repatriation to “The Daily Show” is designed to elevate the show’s profile in the ongoing presidential campaign season and possibly beyond.



For a comedian like Stewart, the looming contest between Republican hopeful and Democratic incumbent is ripe with sarcastic possibilities. Hence, the re-entrance of Stewart. 

And if it’s Trump vs. Biden, then all the better for “The Daily Show,” at least once a week.

When Stewart was at the helm four days a week starting in 1999 (there is no show on Fridays), “The Daily Show” eventually became politically significant, the conventional wisdom goes.

Trevor Noah took over in 2015 and left in 2022. By then, the show had lost an estimated 72% of the audience who tuned in for Stewart.

For the last 13 months, “The Daily Show” has been hosted by a series of temps, which consigned the show to a kind of limbo in which it just kind of laid there being increasingly ignored -- from player to bit player to no player.

No doubt, the decision-makers at Comedy Central believe that Stewart is the one man sarcastic enough to restore the show to its previous position in politics and entertainment, one day a week.

It is reasonable to believe that they offered him a lot of money. In return, he agreed to those terms, but only wanted to host the show one day a week. They agreed and the deal was done.

He has also been given an executive producer’s title, which positions him as a backstage guide and mentor to the show’s creative staff. Or perhaps he will take a boss’s role, which could be what the show needs.

Plans call for the Tuesday-through-Thursday shows to be hosted by rotating “Daily Show” correspondents.

Stewart’s one day a week as the host of “The Daily Show” will be Monday -- something Rachel Maddow has been doing at MSNBC since 2022. 

Stewart’s first night back at “The Daily Show” is scheduled for Monday, February 12, the 215th birthday of Abraham Lincoln.

At age 61, Jon Stewart is an old soldier of late-night TV. But unlike General MacArthur, he is not fading away.

2 comments about "Unlike MacArthur's Old Soldier, Jon Stewart Won't Fade Away".
Check to receive email when comments are posted.
  1. Tanya Gazdik from MediaPost, January 26, 2024 at 12:51 p.m.

    I haven't watched The Daily Show since he left. I liked Trevor Noah but it just wasn't as compelling. But I'll check out Stewart's return for sure. Smart of Comedy Central. Everyone has bills to pay, right? 

  2. Mark Sutton from NHR, January 26, 2024 at 2:18 p.m.

    Paramount is poised to lay off hundreds of workers the day after he returns, but they found enough money so he can work one day a week?

    Not a good look.

Next story loading loading..