In many ways, it's a generational shift, as well — but not simply because Stewart is 21 years Noah's senior. No, as Noah pointed out at a Wednesday session for The Daily Show at the 2015 Television Critics Association summer press tour, the way people consume the news is changing, and the old paradigm of Stewart's Daily Show holds less sway.
The Daily Show was based on an emerging 24-hour news cycle ... Now you look at news, and it’s changing. It’s no longer predicated around 24-hour news. There are so many different sources. Half of it is online now. Now, you’ve got the Gawkers and the BuzzFeeds, and the way people are absorbing their news in sound bites and headlines and little click links has changed everything.
So the biggest challenge — and it’s going to be an exciting one on the show — is how do we bring all of that together, looking at it from through a bigger lens as opposed to just going after one source, which was historically Fox News.
Put in terms of the internet, then, Stewart's Daily Show was the Onion, tearing apart traditional media. And Noah would like to sell his version of the show as ClickHole, taking aim at the way the online news cycle moves even faster than cable news did.
That's easier to say than do — it's often hard to turn what's interesting about the internet into compelling television — but Noah, whose comedy often focuses less on specific political issues than it does on broader issues of race, identity, and prejudice, could well be up to the task.
The Stewart Daily Show was focused on the day's political news and gaffes, but that's a currency that is shared less and less online. Noah seems more interested in the idea of the online outrage machine and the targets it chooses (which have included him). If he can translate that idea to TV, then the show could successfully reinvent itself for a new era.
It's also worth noting Stewart did exactly this when he took over the show from Craig Kilborn, phasing out many favorite Kilborn bits and changing the show from a parody of small-town news into one of 24-hour media culture. The show's longtime fans, however, might miss the Fox News bashing, so don't be surprised if Noah offers up a little of it. Just not as much as Stewart might have.