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Jon Stewart to step down as host of 'The Daily Show'

Jon Stewart, the irreverent host of “The Daily Show” since 1999, will step down from the program later this year, NBC News has confirmed.

This is not your moment of zen.

Jon Stewart, the irreverent host of “The Daily Show” since 1999, will step down from the program later this year, NBC News has confirmed.

“For the better part of the last two decades, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart. His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, 'The Daily Show' has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of 'The Daily Show' until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family,” Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless said in a statement Tuesday.

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Stewart announced the news on his show late Tuesday with his signature comedic spin. "In my heart I know it is time for someone else to have that opportunity. ... Not right away. It’s going to be, you know, we’re still working out details. … I don’t have any specific plans -- got a lot of ideas. I’ve got a lot of things in my head. I’m gonna have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people.

The host thanked viewers for tuning in, even those who "hate watch" the show. "You get in this business with the idea that maybe you have a point of view and something to express. And to receive feedback from that is the greatest feeling i can ask for," he said.

Stewart, who succeeded Craig Kilborn as host of “The Daily Show,” has won many accolades for his satirical style of covering the news -- the show has garnered 20 Emmy awards. The comedian pulls no punches. Stewart has gone after politicians for eating pizza with a fork, members of Congress on both sides of the aisle and, perhaps most fiercely, the media.

But Stewart also has a serious side. In 2010, the late-night comedian used his show to draw attention to a stalled bill to provide relief for firefighters who responded to the 9/11 attacks. Stewart invited first responders on "The Daily Show" during the debate. One of his guests told The New York Times at the time, “I don’t even know if there was a deal, to be honest with you, before his show.” Congress ultimately passed the bill.

Stewart has interviewed President Obama, famously calling the commander-in-chief "dude." He has also featured countless authors to promote newly released books.

News of Stewart’s departure comes less than two months after Stephen Colbert signed off from “The Colbert Report,” which followed “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central. Colbert is set to succeed David Letterman as host of the “Late Show” on CBS.