People Magazine
November 14, 2017 1:30 pm
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Jon Stewart was “stunned” after five women publicly accused Louis C.K. — who later admitted the allegations “are true” — of sexual misconduct.

“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. Some of them have died,” he said Tuesday on the Today show. “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.”

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Stewart, 54, also discussed a video that has resurfaced since the scandal of a May 2016 taping of David Axelrod’s podcast, The Axe Files, in Chicago. When a University of Chicago student asked why Stewart hadn’t addressed rumors of C.K.’s alleged harassment of female comedians during a previous interview, he laughed and sarcastically responded, “So the Internet said Louis harassed women? You know who you’re talking to, right?”

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On Today, Stewart explained his reaction.

Stewart added that he hasn’t talked to C.K. since the news broke.

“It’s another one of those endemic, systemic and complex problems that we all haven’t had the urgency for, certainly myself included,” he added.

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On Thursday, five women came forward to The New York Times about past experiences with C.K., 50, in which he allegedly masturbated in front of them, asked if he could masturbate in front of them or was heard masturbating while speaking on the phone.

A day after the Times report was published, C.K. confirmed the validity of the stories. (Read his full statement here.)

“At the time, I said to myself that what I did was okay because I never showed a woman my d— without asking first, which is also true,” he said. “But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your d— isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.”

“The power I had over these women is that they admired me,” he added. “And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”