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Jon Stewart reveals the moment things went bad with Apple

'The Problem with Jon Stewart' [Apple TV+]

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"The Problem with Jon Stewart" host says that it was over one particular interview that he knew his show was not going to fit in at Apple TV+.

Jon Stewart did originally say that he parted ways with Apple TV+ because the company "didn't want me to say things that might get me in trouble." He later expanded on that to talk about Apple being uncomfortable with a skit about AI.

Now in a new interview with the podcast The Town with Matthew Belloni, he says that the split was a long time coming, but there was a specific moment when he realised that the relationship was not going to work.

"When I realized it was [going] south was, there was an interview with [economist] Larry Summers," said Stewart. "And I had had the idea that using the Fed to whip inflation was ignoring the fact that so much of inflation is corporate profit."

Stewart's argument centered on the idea that corporations were profiting from the COVID pandemic. Summers came ready with figures to show that Apple was profiting hugely at the time.

Summers asked Stewart if he therefore believed that Apple was gouging as he had claimed other corporations were. Stewart said yes, but then said "let's flip that around."

Where Summers believed corporations should be able to charge whatever they can get for their products, Stewart talked about Apple's employees.

"You're [Summers] saying Apple should utilize their strength in, if the market conditions lend it that way, to get as much money as they can," Stewart reports saying. "I'm saying, why can't workers do the same?"

The interview was prerecorded and played back to the show's studio audience to great applause — "they explode like we just a three-pointer at the buzzer" — and then there as a meeting.

"The Apple executives walk into the dressing room afterwards with a look on their face," says Stewart, "and I was like, oh my God, did the factory explode? Like what happened?"

Apple reportedly asked if Stewart was going to use the Summers interview in the aired show. "We went back and forth for a couple of weeks before the show aired that particular moment," says Stewart.

"It was then that I realized, oh, our aims do not work [together]," he continued. "We're trying to make the best, most insightful execution of the intention that we can make, but they're protecting a different agenda."

In the full podcast interview, Stewart is frank about what he sees as his own failings with the first season of "The Problem with Jon Stewart." He's also analytical about Apple rather than blaming it, to the extend that he explicitly denies that he was censored.

"Even at Comedy Central, the deal is I get to do what I want until they think it's gonna hurt their beer sales or whatever it is that they wanna sell," he said. "And that's the deal we all make — nobody is owed a platform."

"And when you're in somebody's house and they want you to take your shoes off," he continued, "you take your f****** shoes off or you go to somebody else's house, right?"

Apple TV+ is "almost a sideline" for Apple

Stewart also says that he was used to working in a situation where what he was doing was central to what a corporation was trying to do. His show could be part of the company's aims and its identity, whereas with Apple and some other large streamers, television is almost a sideline.

"Apple isn't just a content company, they have a whole other side business making, I think, adapters," he said. "So if you think about it, content for them, and I don't wanna say it's a lark, but it is not core to their brand identity."

Then with regards to making content, Stewart also said that Apple had "a very challenging content environment," in trying to set up Apple TV+. "Imagine starting a content company, you have no IP, you literally have no IP, there is no Marvel Universe, there is no Star Wars."

Apple has not commented on the new interview.