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Jon Stewart, who turned his combination of biting and free-wheeling humor into an unlikely source of news and analysis for viewers of ‘‘The Daily Show,’’ said he’s leaving as host this year.

His departure was announced by Comedy Central President Michele Ganeless after Stewart, host of the show since 1999, broke the news to the studio audience at Tuesday’s taping in New York.

Stewart, slapping his desk and blinking back tears, told the audience that he had signed on to ‘‘The Daily Show’’ 17 years ago, and ‘‘17 years is the longest I have ever in my life held a job, by 16 years and five months.’’

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‘‘This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host, and neither do you,’’ he said. It’s yet to be decided when he’ll leave or what comes next for him, Stewart said, with one exception.

‘‘I’m gonna have dinner, on a school night, with my family,’’ he said.

Ganeless called Stewart, 52, a ‘‘comic genius.’’ She did not specify his exit date or what led to his decision.

‘‘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,’’ Ganeless said in a statement.

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