Jon Stewart is opening up about the scandal surrounding his friend Louis C.K., saying he was “stunned” when he heard the reports and Louis C.K.’s admission.
Appearing on “Today” to promote his special “The Night of Too Many Stars”, Stewart was asked by Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie about the sexual misconduct the comedian has been accused of, and has admitted to.
“You give your friends the benefit of the doubt,” the 54-year-old comedian explained. “I’ve had friends who have compulsions—gambling, drinking or drugs—and we’ve lost some of them. Some of them have died. You always find yourself back to a moment of, Did I miss something? Could I have done more?”
He added: “In this situation, we all could have.”
The former “Daily Show” host also spoke to the difficulty for women in the industry. “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 so to do it was an act of bravery in and of itself.”
Stewart clarified that he had first heard the allegations about C.K. a year ago when an audience member at a live podcast recording asked him about it.
“He said, ‘What do you think about these allegations against Louis C.K.?'” Stewart recalled. “My first response was, ‘What?'”
“I know Louis,” he remembered saying. “He’s always been a gentleman—to me, which again, it speaks to the blindness I think a man has, which is like, ‘Hey he’s a good guy, what are you talking about?'”
Stewart concluded by looking at the larger cultural conversation surrounding sexual harassment and assault. “It’s another one of those endemic, systemic, complex problems that we all haven’t had urgency for, certainly myself included,” he said. “I hope it changes.”