In the wake of Jon Stewart announcing he was leaving The Daily Show, many commentators started picking their fantasy replacements (we had our own picks). This was natural — Stewart turned The Daily Show into an institution, and it's fun imagining how the show could evolve, change, and eventually go on without him.
One name that kept popping up was Jessica Williams, a wickedly funny correspondent on the show who has blossomed over the last few months. On Sunday, Williams took herself out of the running.
"Thank you, but I am extremely under-qualified for the job!," she tweeted, adding "… I am super not right for it, but there are quite a few people who are! Can't wait to stick around & see what happens."
Jessica Williams knows what's best for Jessica Williams
This didn't sit well with a writer named Ester Bloom who works at a site called The Billfold, which covers finance and careers. In an article, Bloom suggested Williams wasn't in tune with her own self worth, and that she needed a pep talk with people of color and feminists to understand her value. In Bloom's opinion, Williams needed some sense talked into her:
All Williams needs is a pep talk. Get Luvvie in a room with her, and Jazmine, and Amy Poehler and Lena Dunham. Get Paul Feig in there too, and Ta-Nehisi Coates, and George R. R. Martin. Get her the best Lean In group of all time. She will emerge as from a funeral pyre, naked and coiled in dragons, ready to lead.
It's impossible to imagine Bloom writing something like this to a man saying he didn't really want Stewart's job. There's a strange disregard here for Williams's agency, as well as an assumption that Bloom knows what's best for her. Williams replied to the article eloquently, pointing out that disregarding her choice was insulting:
This was not the end of it
Williams's day was not done.
After Williams responded to Bloom and The Billfold, Time's Tessa Berenson aggregated the story and ran a headline, alleging that Williams was mad at "fans" who wanted to see her host The Daily Show:
The problem was that Williams's Twitter responses didn't involve firing back at "fans." They were a response to one specific post, written by a professional commentator. Time's headline paints Williams as angry and ungrateful. Williams responded:
The headline was eventually changed to "Jessica Williams Says She's ‘Underqualified' to Host The Daily Show."
One thing is clear: Jessica Williams more than knows what she wants, and it's probably best not to tell her otherwise.