Jon Stewart spoke for the first time about the allegations against his good friend and fellow comedian Lewis C.K. on Tuesday, telling Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie he was ‘stunned’ when he heard the news.
The former host of The Daily Show went on to say that he was angry at his friend for and at himself, admitting that he took the comedian at his word when he ‘assured’ him that rumors about any sexual misconduct were false.
‘You give you friends the benefit of the doubt,’ explained Stewart, who was on the NBC morning show to promote his upcoming HBO special ‘Night of Too Many Stars.’
C.K. was cut from the previously filmed autism benefit in the wake of last week’s New York Times expose, which featured interviews with five women who accused C.K. of inappropriate behavior.
One day later, the comedian released a statement in which he said that all five women were telling the truth.
‘You find yourself at a moment of, did I miss something? Could I have done more? In this situation, we all could have,’ said Stewart.
‘You feel anger on what he did to people.’
Candid conversation: Jon Stewart addressed his friend Lewis C.K’s sexual misconduct on Today, saying he was ‘stunned’ when he heard the news (Stewart on Today above)
Buds: ‘You find yourself at a moment of, did I miss something? Could I have done more? In this situation, we all could have,’ said Stewart (above with C.K. in 2015)
Stewart, who got his start in stand-up before transitioning to acting and later serving as host of ‘The Daily Show’ for 15 seasons, acknowledged that C.K’s actions were part of a much larger problem.
‘Comedy on its best day is not a good environment for women. But when we started 30 years ago, it was really difficult. To do it was an act of bravery in itself,’ said Stewart.
‘The idea there was an added layer of pressure and manipulation and fear and humiliation, and not – look, I don’t want to make this like, Louis was the only one in the business. It’s not. It’s endemic.’
Stewart went to the explain that he believes the problem lies in the fact that ‘men are used to being in charge’ which put women in a ‘difficult position.’
‘And you get mad at yourself for laughing it off, or thinking, “that didn’t happen,” said Stewart.
The 54-year-old funnyman, who these days is hard at work on a 45-acre animal sanctuary he runs with his wife Tracey, said that he first heard the allegations a year ago while taping a podcast.
At the time he admits to joking about the situation, but maintained that he did then make a point of noting that these were serious allegations.
‘I know Louis. He’s always been a gentleman, to me. It speaks to the blindness that a man has. “Hey, he’s a good guy. What are you talking about?”‘ said Stewart.
‘Digging around in it and finding that some people had done, it was hard. But we were all assured, no. But we took somebody’s word for it. And maybe that’s an error on our part.’
He then added: ‘With drugs, we’ve tried interventions and maybe that’s something that…’
As he searched for his words, the hosts asked Stewart if he had spoken with C.K., which he quickly responded to by stating: ‘No, I have not.’
Tough spot: He also said that he gave his friend the ‘benefit of the doubt’ after being ‘assured’ that the rumors were false and has not spoken to him since last week’s expose (l to r: Bruce Springsteen, Jim Gaffigan, Jerry Seinfeld, C.K. and Stewart in 2016)
In the end, Stewart spent four minutes addressing the situation, coming off as thoughtful completely unrehearsed in his response.
And while he has been subject to attacks on the Internet, he at no point defended C.K. publicly against the allegations, with the only instance in which he appears to have addressed the claims at all being the taping of David Axelrod’s podcast in May of last year.
A member of the audience asked him about comedian Jenn Kirkman making claims about C.K’s sexual misconduct, to which Stewart replied: ‘So the internet said Louis harassed women? You know who you’re talking to, right?’
He later said: ‘All I can tell you is I’ve worked with Louis for 30 years, and he’s a wonderful man and person, and I’ve never heard anything about this. We’ve all known Bill Cosby was a p**** for a long time, so I don’t know what to tell you.’
It was all just as he described on Today, and at the end of the interview Guthrie thanked Stewart for being one of the few men in the industry to address this very serious problem in such a candid manner.
‘It’s a reckoning in our culture. And we appreciate your time and thoughtfulness about it,’ said Guthrie.
Stewart then closed out by saying: ‘
No. It’s one of those things. It’s another one of those endemic, systemic, complex problems that, you know, we all haven’t had the urgency for. And certainly, myself included. I hope it changes.’
One day after his five accusers came forward, C.K. confirmed that they were not in fact allegations in a lengthy statement.
‘I want to address the stories told to The New York Times by five women named Abby, Rebecca, Dana, Julia who felt able to name themselves and one who did not,’ said the 50-year-old comedian.
‘These stories are true. At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my d*** without asking first, which is also true.
‘But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d*** isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.’
He went on to state: ‘The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.I have been remorseful of my actions. And I’ve tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I’m aware of the extent of the impact of my actions.
‘I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position.’
Victims: Comedians Dana Min Goodman (right) and Julia Wolov (left) claims Louis C.K got naked and masturbated in front of them in a hotel room in Aspen, Colorado back in 2002
Brave voices: Abby Schachner (right) claims she could hear the comedian masturbating while they were on the phone in 2003, while Rebecca Corry (left) said he allegedly asked to masturbate in front of her in 2005
Response: Busy Philipps did not mince words in expressing how she felt about C.K’s response (above)
C.K. no longer wields the same power he writes of in this statement.
On Thursday, HBO announced that they will be cutting C.K. from their ‘Night of Too Many Stars’ special when the autism benefit airs on the network November 18.
And the day before that C.K’s new film I Love You Daddy will not be arriving in theaters it was announced on Friday.
The Orchard, who purchased the distribution rights to the film for $5 million after its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival said in a statement: ‘The Orchard will not be moving forward with the release of “I Love You, Daddy.”‘
One of the stars of the film, 20-year-old Chloe Grace Moretz, halted her press obligations for the picture even before this news when she became aware of the upcoming Times story, as did Charlie Day.
The ‘It’s Always Sunny’ star told the Los Angeles Times: ‘I do not condone sexual misconduct and, in light of the allegations, will not be promoting the movie further,’ she told the Los Angeles Times.’
FX has also cut ties with C.K., saying: ‘Today, FX Networks and FX Productions are ending our association with Louis C.K. We are canceling the overall deal between FX Productions and his production company, Pig Newton.
‘He will no longer serve as executive producer or receive compensation on any of the four shows we were producing with him – Better Things, Baskets, One Mississippi and The Cops.’
Netflix will no longer stream the two stand-up specials they had planned to air later this year, stating: ‘Louis’s unprofessional and inappropriate behavior with female colleagues has led us to decide not to produce a second stand-up special, as had been planned.’
And Louis C.K. has been dropped by both his rep and his management compant, with 3 Arts management saying: ‘We have terminated our relationship with Louis C.K. We are committed to ensuring a safe and secure environment for our staff, clients and the community at large.’
In September, he was asked about these long-rumored allegations by The New York Times and said: ‘I’m not going to answer to that stuff, because they’re rumors. If you actually participate in a rumor, you make it bigger and you make it real.’
When then pressed to respond, he stated: ‘They’re rumors, that’s all that is.’