Jon Stewart, host of HBO's upcoming Night of Too Many Stars: America Unites for Autism Programs benefit, addressed Louis C.K.'s admitted sexual misconduct incidents Tuesday. During an interview on the Today show, Stewart said he was "stunned" to hear the news. Stewart also described the comedy scene as "not a great environment for women," even on its best day.
"You give your friends a benefit of the doubt," Stewart said. "I tried to think of it in terms of, you know, I've had friends who have compulsions and who have done things, gambling or 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? And, in this situation, I think we all could have."
Stewart, who said he feels "anger" for what C.K. did to people, then outlined the comedy scene's longstanding problems. "Look, comedy on its best day, is not a great environment for women," he said. "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. The idea that there was this added layer of pressure and manipulation and fear and humiliation… And look, I don't want to make this like, Louis was the only one in the business. It's not. It's endemic."
Stewart also addressed being confronted with the industry whisperings surrounding C.K. during a podcast taping with David Axelrod in 2016. "I hadn't heard, at that point, of any of it," Stewart said, noting that his willingness to trust his friend "speaks to the blindness that a man has." Stewart confirmed that he and C.K. haven't spoken since the New York Times story broke.
In C.K.'s statement following the Times piece's publication, the I Love You, Daddy writer/director said "these stories are true."