Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart addresses the recent sexual misconduct allegations against his longtime friend and fellow comedian Louis C.K. Stewart - along with other close friends of C.K. in the world of comedy, such as his former late night boss Conan O'Brien - has found himself taking some heat as of late, with many wondering how so many comedy heavyweights could know C.K. so well, but not be aware of his inappropriate behavior with colleagues.
Stewart has been friends with C.K. for many years, with both first getting into comedy in the 80s. C.K. also worked at one time with another close Stewart pal, Stephen Colbert. C.K. was a frequent guest on The Daily Show during Stewart's long tenure as host of the program, with the friendly rapport between the two making it quite obvious there was a real life friendship in play.
This morning, Stewart appeared as a guest on NBC's Today Show. While he was there to promote this weekend's Night of Too Many Stars charity event on HBO - which originally counted C.K. among its booked guests - Stewart was unsurprisingly asked about his friend's sexual misdeeds, which C.K. admitted had really happened in a statement last week. Here's what Stewart had to say:
"You give your friends the benefit of the doubt. I try to think of it in terms of, I’ve had friends who have compulsions and have done things — gambling, drinking, or drugs. And we lost some of them. Some of them have died. And you find yourself at a moment of, ‘Did I miss something? Could I have done more?’ In this situation, we all could have. So you feel anger at what he did to people.”
To his credit, Stewart doesn't seem to be letting C.K. off the hook for his behavior. At the same time, one doesn't necessarily expect him to just verbally toss his friend under the bus, so it's not too surprising to see Stewart stop a bit short of outright condemning him as some have. This would be an awkward position for anyone to be in, much less someone with worldwide fame and constant public scrutiny of everything he says.
Stewart also addressed a recently recirculated video of his response to a question posed during a podcast appearance in 2016, in which a student asked Stewart about the then-rumored accusations of sexual misconduct against C.K.. Stewart at first appeared stunned, then proceeded to seemingly laugh off the question, although he got a bit more serious near the end. Stewart said this about his odd response to the query: "What?’ And then, joke, joke, and as [the student] kept going, I was like, ‘Look, I know this is very serious, but I know Louis, he’s always been a gentleman to me,’ which, again, speaks to the blindness that I think a man has." When asked by host Matt Lauer, Stewart revealed that he has yet to speak to C.K. since the accusations against him resurfaced.