Way back in the day, before The Daily Show, Jon Stewart had a show on MTV called The Jon Stewart Show. It was amazing. It took place in what looked like somebody’s basement, and Jon Stewart always wore a leather jacket and sometimes, he even had a sh*tty goatee. It only had twelve viewers, but we were hardcore fans.
Among those fans was David Letterman, who was the last guest on The Jon Stewart Show. After MTV cancelled it, Letterman gave Stewart a holding contract, which was basically a contract saying that, “Hey! When something comes up, we’ll call you.” Some suspected that he was being groomed to be Letterman’s replacement (a job that would eventually go to the Jon Stewart’s protege, Stephen Colbert), while others figured he was being held to replace Tom Snyder on The Late Late Show.
It was neither. Craig Kilborn — then host of The Daily Show — was asked to take over for Snyder, and Jon Stewart was offered a show after Craig Kilborn’s Late Late Show. Stewart declined CBS’s offer and instead accepted Comedy Central’s offer to take over for Craig Kilborn (Kilborn has since quit, and can now be seen in the footnotes of articles devoted to late night television).
Three years later, with Stewart’s contract coming to an end with Comedy Central, Stewart was offered a job on ABC to do a talk show after Nightlitine in 2002. He expressed interest, but before a deal could come into place, another guy from Comedy Central, Jimmy Kimmel, was given the job.
And finally, to close out the Big 3 job rejections, it turns out that NBC probably offered him Meet the Press just a few weeks ago, after they fired David Gregory. Apparently, they were even willing to offer the guy an armored truck filled with cash to take over.
He declined, thankfully, because while it might have resuscitated the Sunday morning talk show, it would have only been a brief respite from its decline (and the decline of the overall format). They are going the way of print publication, and I’d hate to see Jon Stewart’s legacy get dragged down with them.
Chuck Todd is more capable of a show in that format, anyway, and — as attested by this tweet last night — has a very good sense of humor about it all.
If it's Sunday, it's your moment of zen.— Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) October 8, 2014
In the meantime, while Stewart has rejected offers from the Big Three networks, the network where he’s decided to stay has steadily become a bigger, more influential force in our pop culture than any of those other networks, thanks to The Daily Show, Colbert and a steady stream of new comedies, and much of that can be attributed to Stewart and the success he’s brought to Comedy Central.