People are rightfully angry about Jon Stewart’s response to the Louis C.K. allegations

On November 9th, The New York Times published an exposé documenting the accounts of five women accusing Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct. On November 10th, the shamed comedian responded to the allegations by issuing a statement in which he admitted the claims against him were true. His fellow comedian and friend Jon Stewart recently admitted he was “stunned” by C.K.’s actions — a statement which has left many angry.

The former host of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show appeared on The Today Show Tuesday, November 14th, to promote his upcoming charitable concert, “Night of Too Many Stars”  — an HBO event C.K. was originally scheduled to appear on before the network severed ties with him. During the appearance, Stewart was asked for his comments on C.K.’s recent admission, and in addition to stating that he was “stunned,” he said,

“You know, you give your friends a benefit of the doubt. I try to think of it in terms of…I’ve had friends who’ve had 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?’

However, Stewart had heard the rumors about Louis C.K. in the past…

So, how can you be “stunned” by something you’d already heard about?

Back in 2016, during a live taping of David Axelrod’s podcast The Axe Files, a student in the audience directly asked Stewart about the C.K. rumors. But Stewart quickly dismissed them, even laughing them off with, “So the internet said Louis harassed women? You know who you’re talking to, right?”

If anything, Stewart could perhaps be “disappointed” or “disgusted” in his friend. But to say he was “stunned” implies he had no knowledge of these rumors (which we know to be false) and removes him from accountability.

Let’s hope this serves as a reminder to men everywhere that they have the power to help police this problem and that we all must take claims of sexual misconduct seriously. Doing so can help eradicate systemic sexual harassment and abuse for good.