Jon Stewart will host his last episode of The Daily Show on Thursday, leaving behind a legacy that genuinely transformed how people view and consume the news. But Stewart is also leaving behind a legacy that didn't appear to do much to elevate women and minority celebrities.
Vocativ's Tracy Clark-Flory and Tal Reznik looked back at Stewart's guest over the years, finding that 75 percent of his 21 most frequent guests were white men, two were women, and one was black (although Fareed Zakaria, an Indian-born American journalist, was the most frequent quest):
It's possible to take this chart in a few ways. One could see it as evidence that The Daily Show was somehow — explicitly or implicitly — racist or sexist in how it selected guests. Or perhaps this is a broader reflection of society as a whole — suggesting that white men are simply (and sadly) more interesting to The Daily Show's viewers, and those working on the show to land these interviews know it.
But The Daily Show has been troubled by diversity in the past. Last month, Wyatt Cenac, a former correspondent for The Daily Show, said on Marc Maron's WTF podcast that Stewart shouted at him to "Fuck off!" when he suggested that Stewart's impression of Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain, who is black, was racially insensitive. Cenac's retelling of the exchange prompted a producer on the show to admit to the New York Times's Dave Itzkoff that The Daily Show has "blind spots" when it comes to race.
But it's not just race. A 2010 investigation by Jezebel's Irin Carmon found the show had a "woman problem," with multiple women staffers of The Daily Show claiming that they were warned they would have a hard time staying on the show for very long.
These issues paint a far more complicated picture of Stewart and The Daily Show, which has been viewed as a progressive bastion over the past several years. And they put more pressure on the show's new host, Trevor Noah, who is black, to take diversity more seriously.