On Stephen Colbert’s Late Show in June, Jon Stewart raised some eyebrows with comments he made about the COVID-19 “lab leak” theory.
During that appearance, embedded above, the ex-Daily Show host appeared to suggest he didn’t totally buy into the pushback against the theory, which suggested the novel coronavirus escaped a labatory in Wuhan, China, where it was first discovered. “Science has in many ways helped ease the suffering of this pandemic which was more than likely caused by science,” the 58-year-old said, which prompted Colbert to ask for further clarification. The star of Apple TV+’s upcoming The Problem With Jon Stewart talk show responded: ”There’s a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China. What do we do? Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan novel respiratory coronavirus lab. The disease is the same name as the lab. That’s just a little too weird.”
While it was difficult to fully discern whether he was joking or being 100 percent serious—or perhaps both—Stewart’s comments raised a lot of questions. He was also embraced by right-wing conspiracy theorists following the comments, which is understandably not something you want.
In a new cover story with the Hollywood Reporter, Stewart has finally addressed his comments and the response to what he said.
“I don’t think he was nervous,” said Stewart when asked if Colbert was “nervous” or “entertained” by the moment. “It’s not like he doesn’t know what I’m going to say. Listen, how it got to be that if it was a scientific accident, it’s conservative, and if it came from a wet market, it’s liberal, I don’t know—I’m just not sure how that got politicized.”
The theory, which has notably been commonly mentioned by elected Republicans, has been met with heavy skepticism by the scientific community. There isn’t an agreed upon consensus, but it’s largely believed the virus transferred from animals to humans.
Stewart suggested his Colbert appearance was “inelegant” but didn’t walk back on his comments. “But it was an inelegant way to get to a bit that I’ve done for years, which is our good-intentioned brilliance will more than likely be our demise,” he explained further. “The bit is about the last words that man ever utters, which are, ‘Hey, it worked.’ I guess I was a little surprised at the pushback.”
The Problem With Jon Stewart will drop biweekly episodes on Apple TV+ starting Sept. 30. THR writes that the “concept—a current affairs series that tackles a single issue, or ‘problem,’ every episode—is some two years in the making.”