Jon Stewart opened up about his reaction to the news last week of five women accusing his friend Louis C.K. of sexual misconduct, with C.K. later saying of the claims in a New York Times exposé, “these stories are true.”
Speaking on NBC’s Today show, where he was promoting his upcoming Night of Too Many Stars HBO special, Stewart said he was “stunned” at the news and wondered what he could’ve done to stop his friend’s alleged inappropriate behavior.
“You give your friends the benefit of the doubt,” Stewart began, “I tried to think of it in terms of, I’ve had friends who have compulsions and 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?’ In this situation, I think we all could’ve. So you feel anger at what he did to people.”
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.”
“You get mad at yourself, too, for laughing it off or for thinking that didn’t happen,” Stewart added.
The former Daily Show host recalled being asked last year about rumors of Louis C.K. masturbating in front of women in public at a taping for David Axelrod’s podcast, a moment that has resurfaced in the wake of the news of C.K.’s alleged behavior.
Stewart reiterated what he said at the time, which is that he “hadn’t heard, at that point, of any of it.”
And he realizes that saying C.K. had always been a gentleman to him may not have been the best response, saying that “again I think speaks to the blindness that a man has, which is like, hey he’s a good guy, what are you talking about.”
Still, he says he and others “took somebody’s word for it and maybe that’s an error on our part.”
Stewart said he hadn’t talked to C.K. since the Times exposé was published.
This post originally appeared in The Hollywood Reporter.