A look at "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart's legacy

It's a bittersweet day for "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" fans. Stewart is stepping down after 16 years as host. His team earned 20 Emmy Awards, and a generation of comedy stars got their big breaks as fake news correspondents on his show, reports CBS News correspondent Vladimir Duthiers.

Stewart has always claimed that he is nothing more than a comedian doing a comedy show, but when you examine the influence he has had on media and politics watchers, it is clear that he's been so much more.

When Stewart sat down as a guest on CNN's "Crossfire" in 2004, he was there to serve notice.

"We need your help, and right now, you're helping the politicians," he told the anchors.

"Within months, the president of CNN announced that he was canceling 'Crossfire,' and he credited Jon Stewart," New Yorker's media critic Ken Auletta said.

On his own show, Stewart used his satirical anchor chair to lob bombs at the media and politicians alike.

Jon Stewart's "Daily Show": The early years 13:59

"I think I know why you are here, and let me just deflate the tension right off the bat. Apology accepted," he said to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

His popularity grew along with his boldness, and so has his influence, especially among younger viewers and voters. He has appeared at or near the top of polls as the most trusted voice in America.

In 2010, Stewart and fellow satirist Stephen Colbert drew more than 200,000 people to Washington for what they called "The Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear."

"The press is our immune system. If it overreacts to everything, we actually get sicker. And perhaps eczema," Stewart said to the crowd.

And he's often credited for getting Congress to pass the 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

"Jon Stewart is not afraid to get in the arena and throw punches," Auletta said. "And when he speaks and makes fun of people, left or right, you have a sense that he is being authentic."

He showed his sincere side during national tragedies.

"This is our first show since the tragedy in New York City, and there is no other way really to start the show than to ask you at home the question that we asked the audience here tonight and that we've asked everybody that we know here in New York since September 11 -- and that is, 'Are you okay?' And we pray that you are and your family is," Stewart said on Sept. 20, 2001, his first show back after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

"It's these kind of moments that we take a step back and realize, you know, he has really done a public service," actor Paul Rudd said.

President Barack Obama speaks with Jon Stewart during a taping of the show in New York, July 21, 2015. The appearance marks Obama's third time on "The Daily Show" as president and seventh overall. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

His guests are as big as they get. President Obama has been on the "Daily Show" seven times, including his appearance two weeks ago.

"I'm issuing a new executive order, that Jon Stewart cannot leave the show," Mr. Obama said.

Last week it was revealed that Stewart has had two sit-down meetings in the White House with the president, leading critics to call him a propagandist.

His response was pure Stewart.

"They didn't seem to support their assertions with evidence," he said.

"Because of his success and his brilliance, there will be many imitators, there will be many people who will vie to take up the mantle, and that is the legacy that he leaves," Auletta said.

"We're going to miss everything about Jon -- His humanity, his hilarity, his incisiveness," "The Nightly Show" host Larry Wilmore said.

On Wednesday it was announced that Stewart's "Daily Show" set will be moved to the Newseum in Washington, D.C., and will be put on display -- quite an honor for a news show that was "just" a comedy show.