Jon Stewart was "stunned" to learn about the allegations against fellow comedian and good friend Louis C.K. "You give your friends the benefit of the doubt", he explained. "In this situation, I think we all could have". "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".
The former "Daily Show" host said Tuesday on NBC's "Today" show that inappropriate behavior is "endemic" in the comedy community and that it is an especially harsh environment for women. It's gotten better over the years, but certainly when we started 30 years ago, it was really hard. The comedian faced further fallout from the allegations, which he later confirmed to be true, with FX dropping him from all of its shows, Netflix cancelling a stand-up special featuring C.K., and HBO pulling all of Louis C.K.'s specials.
"So the internet said Louis harassed women?" Honestly, I'm not that connected to that world. "What are you talking about?'" "I don't know what you're talking about, I don't know what to say".
Stewart added that, "You get mad at yourself too for laughing it off, or for thinking, 'That didn't happen'". Stewart, who was joined by the benefit's creator Michelle Smigel, had been quiet about the Louis scandal, but many were waiting to a response from him.
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Though it's a little unclear, Stewart then suggests that he and his team looked into the allegations at that point but that "we were all assured, no, and we took somebody's word for it, and maybe that's an error on our part".
Following the New York Times report, in which five women accused C.K. of masturbating in front of them, I Love You, Daddy distributor the Orchard announced that it would not move forward with the release. During the question and answer period, a college student asked why Stewart did not address the circulating rumors of Louis CK's alleged sexual harassment of women.
Stewart said that following the podcast taping, he "dug around" to determine if there was any truth behind the audience member's question.
She continued, "Louis C.K.'s life is so much a part of his movies and it's very personal, so you can not separate the work from the artist".