By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Comedian Jon Stewart is taking his support for 9/11 family members to the next level by joining the board of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, memorial officials told DNAinfo.
Stewart, a TriBeCa resident and host of Comedy Central’s "The Daily Show," is expected to attend the 9/11 memorial foundation’s board meeting Thursday afternoon to be voted in as a full board member, memorial president Joe Daniels said.
"We’re super, super excited," Daniels said in a phone interview Tuesday. "He has a very large audience across the country. He could help us through raising awareness."
Stewart served as master of ceremonies for the 9/11 memorial’s fundraising dinner last fall, but it was his recent advocacy for the 9/11 health bill that cemented his nomination to the board, Daniels said. When Senate Republicans threatened to filibuster the bill in December, Stewart devoted an entire show to lambasting them and interviewing rescue workers who are sick.
Stewart's representatives did not immediately return calls and e-mails for comment.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg heaped praise on Stewart for his work pushing the 9/11 health care legislation through, crediting Stewart's advocacy as "without a doubt, one of the biggest factors that led to the final agreement," in the New York Times. The mayor issued a statement Thursday congratulating Stewart on his appointment to the board.
"Jon loves New York as much as I do, and as a resident of Lower Manhattan, he understands how important the Memorial and Museum are both to the City and the whole country," said Bloomberg. "He’s been a great supporter of the foundation and we’re glad he’ll now play an even larger role in ensuring its success."
Bloomberg chairs the memorial foundation’s board, which also includes 9/11 family members, downtown industry and community leaders and other big names from the entertainment world, such as Robert De Niro and Billy Crystal. The mayor has appeared on "The Daily Show" several times, including last summer, when he used the show to defend the construction of the Park51 mosque and community center.
Stewart launched "The Daily Show" in 1999 as a witty lampoon of national politics, but his incisive commentary soon elevated the show to a news source in its own right. President Barack Obama appeared on "The Daily Show" last October, just a few days before Stewart's Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear drew more than 200,000 people to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
When Daniels recently approached Stewart with the 9/11 memorial board offer, Stewart said he was "honored, really touched," Daniels said.