Stewart on Police Brutality: We're Looking at It the Wrong Way

Ex-'Daily Show' host talks to 'NYT' about George Floyd protests, policing, and the campaign season
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 15, 2020 11:35 AM CDT
Stewart: Our Biggest Issue Is Ignorance, and That's 'Curable'
Jon Stewart performs at the annual "Stand Up for Heroes" benefit concert at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 4, 2019, in New York.   (Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP)

Jon Stewart has been gone from The Daily Show for nearly five years, and other than an occasional guest stint on late-night TV, comedic homage, or appearance before Congress as part of his advocacy for 9/11 first responders, he's largely stayed out of the spotlight. "What has he been thinking about this country while he has been gone?" David Marchese wonders in the New York Times, before revealing exactly that in his interview with the 57-year-old comedian, a little more than a week before Stewart's political satire, Irresistible, debuts in theaters and via video on demand. The obvious topic Marchese broaches right away: How does Stewart feel about the killing of George Floyd, and everything that's happened since? "I'd like to say I'm surprised by what happened to him, but I'm not," Stewart answers. "This is a cycle, and I feel that in some ways, the issue is that we're addressing the wrong problem."

In his view, we're focusing on the "how" of policing, but not on the "why." "The police are a reflection of a society," he says. "[They] are, in some respects, a border patrol, and they patrol the border between the two Americas. We have that so that the rest of us don't have to deal with [racial and economic inequalities]." Stewart also speaks on his feelings on Trump versus Biden in the upcoming election; the state of the media in reporting on it; and the overall character of America. "We're basically having giant public fights about symbolism, while the reality of our situation goes unexamined," he notes. But despite the seemingly dire straits we're in, and his referral to Trump as a "malevolent Mr. Magoo," it's ignorance, not malevolence, that's plaguing America—and Stewart thinks that's a "curable" affliction: "In the same way that Trump's recklessness is born out of experience, so is my optimism, because good people outweigh [expletive] people. By a long shot." More here. (More Jon Stewart stories.)

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