While some social media misfires caused a stir when South African comic Trevor Noah was tapped to replace Jon Stewart as The Daily Show host in March, one Viacom exec now says the company’s failure to vet his Twitter account wouldn’t have cost Noah the gig.
“We did not vet his Twitter feed before we hired him,” said David Herzog, president of Viacom Music and Entertainment Group, at the PromaxBDA marketing conference, according to excerpts of his remarks posted on the organization’s website. “But the truth is even had we looked at it I don’t know what we would have done differently.”
Noah came under fire online within hours of being announced as the next late-night host as viewers found past tweets that were offensive to women and Jews. Viacom and Jon Stewart came to his defense, saying that judging him on a handful of jokes is “unfair” and that he should be given the chance to earn the audience’s trust. Noah himself even addressed the feedback.
To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 31, 2015
At least one of the offensive tweets has been deleted, but others remain online.
Herzog, who’s credited with bringing The Daily Show to Comedy Central, said he felt Viacom “underestimated what the public reaction would be to anyone who was going to be sitting in [The Daily Show] seat” before making the replacement. He outlined characteristics he believed were essential to a successful host, including “fun, insightful, smart, understands world events and the news and can speak in millennials’ very distinctive voice.”
“Ultimately, we think this is the right guy for the job,” he continued. “The list was very short.”
Stewart leaves the show Aug. 6, and Noah will take over following a hiatus on Sept. 28.