Jon Stewart is still miffed over the backlash he faced last year for backing the COVID-19 lab leak theory during a now-infamous appearance as a guest on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
The comedian revisited the controversy during the latest episode of his AppleTV+ show “The Problem with Jon Stewart” on Monday – one day after a bombshell revelation that the US Energy Department now views a lab leak as the most likely explanation for the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the revelation, Stewart downplayed the notion that he was vindicated by the classified report, which has yet to be made public. The former “Daily Show” host had faced condemnation for backing the theory during his June 2021 discussion with Colbert.
“First of all, I wasn’t waiting on the Department of Energy to weigh in on this,” Stewart joked.
“The larger problem with all of this is the inability to discuss things that are within the realm of possibility without falling into absolutes and litmus-testing each other for our political allegiances as it arose from that,” Stewart added.
“My bigger problem with that was, I thought it was a pretty good bit that expressed kind of how I felt, and the two things that came out of it were, I’m racist against Asian people, and how dare I align myself with the alt-right.”
Stewart recalled that the backlash he faced was “swift, immediate and quite loud” in the aftermath of his appearance, though he added that he “didn’t take that personally.”
“The part that I don’t like about it is the absolutes and the dismissive like ‘f–k you, I’m done with you. I will never forgive you, you have crossed an unforgivable line. You’ve expressed an opinion that is antithetical to mine, or not mine,’” Stewart continued.
“What was stunning to me, I think, was the anger,” he added.
Critics on the left attacked Stewart for his remarks on “The Late Show” last year. At the time, the COVID-19 lab leak theory was widely panned as a conspiracy theory by most mainstream media outlets.
Colbert appeared to be shocked by Stewart’s stance.
“Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science,” Stewart said.
“Do you mean perhaps there’s a chance that this was created in a lab? If there’s evidence, I’d love to hear it, I just don’t know,” Colbert said.
“A chance? Oh my God!” Stewart replied with clear incredulity. “There’s a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China, what do we do? Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan novel respiratory coronavirus lab.”
“‘Oh my God, there’s been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened?’” Stewart added. “Like, ‘Oh, I don’t know, maybe a steam shovel mated with a cocoa bean?’ Or it’s the f—ing chocolate factory.”
The Energy Department said it had “low confidence” in its determination about the COVID-19 virus’s origins, sources with knowledge of the report told the Wall Street Journal. A year earlier, the FBI concluded with “moderate confidence” that a lab accident caused the outbreak.