"The Daily Show" host Jon Stewart announced his exit from the satirical political television program on Tuesday.
"It's been an absolute privilege," Stewart said. "It's been the honor of my professional life, and I thank you for watching it, for hate-watching it, whatever reason you are tuning in for."
In a statement, Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless called the 52-year-old a "comic genius."
"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," she said.
Stewart will remain with Comedy Central until later this year, but there was no indication of what he was planning to do once he left.
Stewart's satirical criticism of politics and politicians, especially conservatives, made him particularly popular to a young, liberal audience. In a 2004 poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 21 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 cited "The Daily Show" as a regular source of political news.
Former White House advisor, David Axelrod, who appeared on Tuesday's show tweeted his regrets on Stewart leaving:
"The Daily Show," which airs four nights a week in the United States, offered Stewart's trademark unconventional and witty take on the news.
The comedian and his program won 20 primetime Emmys over the years, targeting politicians and dissecting television anchors, most recently NBC news anchor Brian Williams who was suspended for six months last week for repeatedly telling a false war story about time he spent in Iraq.
The program served as a launch pad for several comedians over the years, including actor and director Steve Carrell, Stephen Colbert, who hosted "The Colbert Report," - a "Daily Show" spinoff and John Oliver, who also launched a satirical news show on HBO. Colbert left his trademark show last year and is replacing David Letterman on "The Late Show."
mg/sms (AP, Reuters, AFP)