Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart addressed the repeated acts of sexual misconduct confessed to by Louis C.K. last week. Stewart, a longtime friend of Louis C.K., was asked about the scandal during an appearance on the Today show Tuesday. Stewart said he had no idea about the behavior that the comic had been engaging in for years.
“You give your friends the benefit of the doubt. I tried to think about it in terms of, I’ve had friends who have had compulsions and have done things: gambling or drinking or drugs. And we’ve lost some of them. Some of them have died,” Stewart said. “You always find yourself back to a moment of, ‘Did I miss something? Could I have done more?’ And in this situation, I think we all could have. So you feel anger at what you did to people.”
Stewart said he was “stunned” by the report by The New York Times in which five women came forward telling stories about Louis C.K. masturbating in front of them without their consent. He also referenced an interview he gave last year in which an audience member questioned him about Louis C.K.’s behavior, which, at the time, were allegations and rumors. “Whoa! What?!” Stewart replied to the audience member who had posed the question, citing a Gawker article and a series of allegations made on Twitter. “I didn’t see the tweets,” Stewart added. “Honestly, I’m not that connected to that world. I don’t know what you’re talking about … All I can tell you is I’ve worked with Louis for 30 years, he’s a wonderful person, and I’ve never heard anything about this,” Stewart concluded at the time.
Turning back to the aftermath of the Louis C.K. revelations, Stewart said, “So you feel anger at what he did to people. But comedy, on its best day, is not a great environment for women. I think it’s gotten better over the years, but certainly, when we started 30 years ago, it was really difficult,” and added, “Look, I don’t want to make it like, ‘Louis was the only one in the business!’ (He’s) not, it’s endemic.”
Stewart said he hasn’t spoken with Louis C.K. since he confirmed the women’s accusations last week. Watch Stewart’s full remarks below.