It’s been two weeks since Jon Stewart ended his 16-year tenure as host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, but some rather passionate fans are not ready to see him retire from American political discourse just yet. A change.org petition that, as of this writing, has received 95,686 signatures is demanding that the Commission on Presidential Debates bring the Rosewater director on as a moderator during the 2016 general election.
“Over the last 16 years, Jon Stewart has played an influential and iconic role in covering U.S. politics and media,” says the petition’s author, Muriel Waters. “We believe he should continue that tradition as a moderator at one of the 2016 Presidential Debates.”
Citing the two Peabody Awards The Daily Show received in 2000 and 2004, the petition also mentions the successful 2012 Change.org campaign to get a woman hired as a presidential debate moderator, a job that ultimately went to CNN’s Candy Crowley. The petition also requests a public response.
After the petition was launched two weeks ago to little attention and few signers, participation has swelled in the past 24 hours, rising from 25,000 signatures Wednesday. Could it succeed? The petition that got Crowley the gig in 2012 eventually reached 150,000 signatures, a number the Stewart petition seems on track to achieve. However, the earlier petition came bundled with representational symbolism that Stewart wouldn’t be able to bring. Even so, a Stewart-moderated debate could boost interest in the event, particularly among younger voters, as liberal fans and conservative detractors alike tune in to see how he runs the show. That alone could catch the commission’s interest.
Of course, Stewart himself has indicated repeatedly that he’s grown exhausted of covering and making fun of the political and media climate, even joking on the Daily Show that it was “killing” him. Even so, he’ll be hosting WWE SummerSlam later this summer, an event sure to contain at least as much manufactured drama and one-liners as any presidential debate.