The Late Show viewers call out Jon Stewart for peddling ‘harmful’ lab leak coronavirus theory

‘That was painful to watch,’ said one viewer

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 15 June 2021 12:52
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Jon Stewart appeared on The Late Show last night (14 June) and promoted a right-wing conspiracy theory about the origins of Covid-19, leading to a backlash on Twitter.

The comedian raised the theory when host Stephen Colbert asked him how he was feeling about the state of the scientific response to the pandemic. “So, I will say this – and I honestly mean this – I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science,” he said. “Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic, which was more than likely caused by science.”

Colbert then asked his friend: “Do you mean perhaps there’s a chance that this was created in a lab?”

To which Stewart replied: “A chance? Oh my god, 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. The disease is the same name as the lab. That’s just a little too weird!”

He joked that the scientists who worked in that lab claimed the pandemic began after a “pangolin kissed a turtle” or “a bat flew into the cloaca of a turkey and then it sneezed into my chili and now we all have coronavirus”.

Colbert pushed back, telling Stewart: “It could be possible that they have the lab in Wuhan to study the novel coronavirus diseases because in Wuhan there are a lot of coronavirus diseases because of the bat population there.”

“This is not a conspiracy!” Stewart retorted. “But this is the problem with science. Science is incredible, but they don’t know when to stop and no one in the room with those cats ever goes, ‘I don’t know if we should do that.’ They’re like, ‘Curiosity killed the cat, so let’s kill 10,000 cats to find out why.’”

Many viewers condemned Stewart for his comments, with one person writing on Twitter: “He’s spitting harmful conspiracy theories… so that’s fun.”

“Oh my god Jon Stewart is a lab leak believer? Oof,” posted another.

A third said: “That was painful to watch. I feel like I just learned my favourite uncle is a conspiracy nut.”

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The idea that Covid-19 could have escaped from a lab has long been dismissed by members of the scientific community, while others have derided such theories due to their connection with former President Donald Trump.

However, calls from his successor Joe Biden for a transparent investigation into the origins of Covid-19 have recently brought the theory back under the spotlight.

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