Broadcast media shake-ups shock, stun, sadden viewers

Jon Stewart (clockwise from top right), Brian Williams and Bob Simon made the news last week.

It was a tumultuous week for broadcast media. One of America’s finest newsmen, Bob Simon, 73, was killed in a traffic accident on the West Side Highway in New York City. As an award-winning foreign correspondent for CBS News, he had survived conflicts in Vietnam, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, the Persian Gulf, Yugoslavia, Grenada, Somalia and Haiti.

Over at NBC, news anchor Brian Williams got himself in trouble by telling, and retelling, a story about riding in a helicopter shot down by a rocket-propelled grenade during the war in Iraq. An internal investigation uncovered other instances of exaggeration, and NBC suspended Williams for six months without pay.

And the week also brought news of another anchor’s departure. Jon Stewart, the primary force behind Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” announced he would step down later this year, after a successful 16-year run. Moans of disappointment could be heard from every corner of the country, and speculation immediately erupted about who might replace him.

Even Sen. Lindsey Graham, who has been mercilessly chastised by Stewart on several occasions, expressed regret about the change.

“When he gives me a hard time, I understand that I’ve arrived,” Graham told The New York Times.

When The South Carolina Republican announced that he was considering a run for president, Stewart responded, on air, “Thank you, Jesus!” as a small band played “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

But none of Stewart’s sarcasm seems to intimidate Graham, who told The Times, “I’m going to try to go on that show before it’s over with.”

On Facebook, The Post and Courier asked its readers for reactions and suggestions about who should fill Stewart’s shoes.

“Not Brian Williams,” Jael Sheppard responded.

“Bassem Youssef would be an appropriate replacement, and since he was on the show Monday night, I can’t help but wonder if it was discussed backstage,” wrote Elena Hansen-Roberts.

Wyndy Amerson replied that the news provoked “sadness.”

“First Colbert and now Stewart!” Amerson wrote. “We will adjust. He has done a great job of developing talent. Jason Jones and Samantha Bee? Wyatt Cenac? Jon was great at delivering satirical political comedy.”

John Gullion did not hesitate with his suggested replacement: “Tina Fey!” he wrote.

Social media was rife with other comments and suggestions. Posts to The Daily Show’s Facebook page included a job offer from Arby’s, a guess that perhaps Stewart was thinking about running against Lindsey Graham for president, compliments, expressions of regret, heartbreak and good wishes, and the oft-repeated sentiment that TV would be worse off.

“Now who is going to report the ACTUAL news!!!” someone wrote.

“Well, there goes the only news show that I trust,” another posted.

“I am running out of reasons to even turn on the television,” a fan confessed.