Jon Stewart has known Louis C.K. for over three decades. They’ve been friends and colleagues, and as recently as a year ago, Stewart described C.K. as a “wonderful person.”
And so, ever since the NYT report on Louis C.K. detailing his habit of masturbating in front of unwilling women dropped, fans of Stewart have wondered about his reaction to it all.
“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,” Stewart said Tuesday. “Some of them have died. 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.”
It’s good that in this clip, we see Stewart shouldering some of the blame himself. While many fans of Stewart would like to think he was completely unaware of the allegations surrounding C.K. until this point, complicating the issue is this video, taken last year, of an interaction between Stewart and a University of Chicago student:
The student (very politely) asks Stewart for his thoughts on the scandal, and Stewart is mostly just incredulous, saying he hadn’t heard anything about Gawker’s story on C.K.’s harassment or Jen Kirkman’s story on her podcast. And while you can judge for yourself whether Stewart’s innocent obliviousness is genuine (given his status as something of a hermit after quitting The Daily Show, we’re inclined to believe it), at the very least there’s evidence of someone raising the question in advance of the NYT piece.
And if Stewart had taken the student’s question seriously, one would think he would have read up on the issue. Maybe then he wouldn’t have been as “stunned.”