After Jon Stewart's announcement Tuesday that he would be stepping down as host of "The Daily Show," we (the media) engaged in that time-honored tradition of casting aside the departed/er in favor of the next host -- writing up lists and publishing slideshows of who should replace him.
The Washington Post's Caitlin Moore had her own picks, as did CNN Money, Vox, Huffington Post, Just Jared, and the Daily Dot. It happens every time a late-night host says he (and it's always been a he) is leaving, and every time one dominant theme of these lists is that it should not be a white man. Yet the replacements are always white men (see: Conan O'Brien, Jimmy Fallon, Stephen Colbert, etc.) -- or at least they were until Larry Wilmore took Colbert's time slot, if not his actual show.
"The Daily Show" is, of course, different from other late night shows. According to Pew, 47 percent of the show is about politics and government, and about as many people say they get their news there (12 percent) as USA Today and the Huffington Post. It's satire, but it's also a major news source, so the argument for why it needs a host who isn't a white man is about diversity in news media just as much as it is an argument about diversity in entertainment and pop culture.
And media has a diversity problem. Only 13 percent of newspaper reporters and 20 percent of employees at online-only news sites are members of a racial or ethnic minority, according to a 2014 study by the American Society of News Editors. Diversity is especially important to media, because race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and even where a journalist grew up and went to school can inform and enrich the newsroom's combined work, given the array of topics that warrant coverage.
Replacing 52-year-old New Yorker Jon Stewart with someone like "Daily Show" corespondent Jessica Williams, who is 25, black, from Torrence, Calif., and attended Cal State-Long Beach, could provide that different perspective. (Williams is a top pick in every one of the above mentioned lists, and she played the role of "Daily Show" host in the year 2025 in the film "Hot Tub Time Machine 2.") Other picks that have popped up frequently in lists this week are Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, Chris Rock, and "Daily Show" correspondent Aasif Mandvi.
Diversity is also important to many young liberals who make up a large percentage of the show's audience. Pew found 34 percent of those with consistently liberal views say they watch "The Daily Show," and the show's median age is 36 -- younger than that of "Anderson Cooper 360," "The Rachel Maddow Show," and "The O'Reilly Factor."
Comedy Central said it has a shortlist of potential replacements already, but they're mum on who's on it. What we do know is the only person Viacom Entertainment Group president Doug Herzog suggested isn't on the list is former "Daily Show" corespondent and HBO host John Oliver ... who happens to be a white man.