Jon Stewart has admitted that he should’ve taken Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy more seriously than he did at the time when he was still host of “The Daily Show.”
Stewart led the charge among those in the media and the late-night comedy world in dismissing Trump descending down to the stage on an escalator and delivering a racially charged speech as a joke, then referring to it as a “gift from heaven.”
“I thought America was going to go, ‘Is that an escalator in a mall? I’m not voting for that dude,'” Stewart told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “I didn’t think he meant it. And when he gave that speech, quite frankly, when he said Mexico sends us ‘their worst, rapists and murderers,’ I thought he had disqualified himself.”
Stewart, who has long been considered one of the more trusted names in media and comedy, is currently on tour with Dave Chappelle, also known as a rational voice even during tumultuous times.
In speaking with CNN, Stewart and Chappelle compared what they do as comedians to what Trump does in front of rally crowds — doing a set show, consistently playing the “hits” and telling people what they want to hear.
“Donald Trump is a salesman who changes his pitch depending on who he’s in front of. What he doesn’t realize is that it’s all being recorded,” Stewart said. “If you ask him about it, and you say, ‘is it OK to body slam a reporter?’ ‘No no, that was just a little joke in front of friends.'”
Chappelle also reflected on his comments shortly after the election during a monologue on “SNL” where he said he was willing to give Trump a chance if it meant he will give the historically disenfranchised a chance.
“I think I said the right thing at the right time,” Chappelle told CNN, with Stewart nodding in agreement. “We had to recalibrate and put things in perspective. I’m a black American, so these feelings that people felt right after the election, we’ve felt that.”
Stewart echoed the point, saying he felt there was a possibility that being in the role of the president and being in the shoes of former leaders might change Trump.
“Oddly enough, he transformed the White House and the White House wasn’t able to transform him,” Stewart said.
Watch a clip from the interview above.