The media landscape has dramatically changed since the election of Donald Trump. Aptly termed the Fourth Estate, the press has been tasked with covering an unconventional presidency during a time of heightened political polarization, to varying degrees of success. Thus, when Trevor Noah signed on to fill the shoes of former Daily Show host Jon Stewart in 2015, during the 2016 presidential election, he likely didn't anticipate just how quickly his role would change when the president took office.
While speaking on a panel moderated by CNN's Jake Tapper at SXSW on Saturday, the late-night host discussed how he plans on covering the upcoming presidential election, and how the show has adapted to the Trump era.
"What we’ve come to realize is there is no news cycle, there is no schedule, there is no plan," Noah said. He then elaborated on how when he first assumed the role, there was "cadence" to the news cycle, the pattern of which was fairly manageable. However, given the unpredictable nature of the president, and the investigations and developments that have arisen as a result, Noah and his staff have adapted to the new normal.
"There was a rhythm, so you knew that at a certain time there would be no news so you could create a show. Now, there is a 5:30 p.m. curse, we call it. At 5:30 p.m. somebody is getting indicted, some tweet is coming out, somebody is getting into some scandal, something is going to happen," Noah explained. "We create the show for the day and we know full well that there’s a good chance at 5 p.m. we’ll have to throw out most of the show and then create something new. And we’ve gotten good at it."
In light of the news cycle's heightened irregularity, The Daily Show intends to focus on "accurate representation" when it comes to covering the 2020 president election, spotlighting what the candidates stand for and how it will likely affect the lives of Americans. "What's going to be interesting for me in 2020 is this new narrative and this new discussion around the Democratic party — because for a long time it's just been one storyline: Donald Trump," Noah said. "But now it's going to be: Who are the Democrats? What do they stand for? What are their plans?"
Despite The Daily Show's adjustment to the pace of news developments, Noah explained that the dual purpose of reporting on the news while trying to make people laugh can be somewhat of a balancing act. "I'm not trying to create a straight-up news show. I want you to watch The Daily Show because it's going to tell you what's happening in the world and also because it's going to help you laugh," he said. "Because if you're not laughing at what's going on right now, you will go crazy."