The Daily Show alum opened up about C.K.'s fall from grace on the Today show Monday, and said that for years, he'd given his friend the benefit of the doubt despite having heard rumours about his habit of masturbating in front of female colleagues.
"Stunned", said Stewart after a moment's hesitation, before comparing C.K.'s behavior to that of a gambler or alcoholic. "I tried to think of it in terms of, I've had friends who have compulsions and who have done things - gambling, or drinking, or drugs - and we've lost some of them".
Stewart elaborated that comedy has long not been a "great environment for women" and that it was unfortunate that they also had to deal with an "added layer of pressure and manipulation and fear and humiliation". "So you feel anger at what he did to people". Matt Lauer dutifully asked Stewart for a comment on last week's allegations of sexual misconduct that Louis C.K. sexually harassed women by masturbating in front of them behind closed doors, allegations that C.K. "I didn't see the tweets".
The comedy world is not my world, and I was not "stunned' by this news". Stewart's response to the question was ... not ideal.
When Stewart was asked if sexual harassment is the "norm in Hollywood" he responded by saying not everyone in Hollywood is a "scumbag". "You know who you're talking to, right?" he tells the audience member, who cited a Gawker article and a podcast by comedian Jen Kirkman. I don't want to make this "Louis was the only one of in the business".
Stewart said he hasn't spoke with Louis C.K. since the New York Times bombshell report broke last Thursday.
Recalling the incident during his Today interview, Stewart said, "My first reaction was, What?!?" "My first response was, 'What?' And then, joke, joke, and as he kept going, I was like, 'Look, I know this is very serious, but I know Louis, he's always been a gentleman to me, ' which, again, it speaks to the blindness that I think a man has", he said.
"No, I haven't", he replied.
Stewart co-hosts the annual charity benefit "Night of Too Many Stars" on Saturday at Madison Square Garden. It features John Oliver, Olivia Munn, Robert DeNiro, Ben Stiller, Stephen Colbert and more.
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