Conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan says he'd been told he would be Stewart's only guest and that the host and other guests on "The Problem with Jon Stewart" ambushed him with their "woke" agenda.
Jon Stewart certainly got people's attention with his all-white panel to discuss race and racism on the latest episode of his new series "The Problem with Jon Stewart," but one of those guests is now crying foul -- and Stewart isn't having it.
Conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan called in for a panel discussion with two other guests for Stewart's topical new show on Apple TV+. Stewart intentionally stacked the panel with only white members to force white people to have the uncomfortable discussion about racism, and systemic racism in particular, owning to how they've benefited from a racist system designed by white people for white people.
After the show, which did not go particularly well for Sullivan, he penned a lengthy post Friday on Substack decrying Stewart and the team behind the show, saying he was "ambushed" in an unprofessional manner by the host and his guests in an attempt to villainize him as the old, white guy racist to push their "woke" agenda.
While normally he might be inclined to let the usual rhetoric and criticism go unanswered, Stewart decided to weigh in on Sullivan's complaints. More specifically, he pushed back. Hard.
Nonsense," Stewart responded on Twitter, tagging Sullivan. "Our booker handled this last minute ask impeccably. Mr Sullivan was told, texted and emailed a detailed account of who was on the program, the content and intent of the discussion."
Stewart went on to say that his team not only made Sullivan fully aware of what was going to be discussed with who and how, they gave him the chance to pull out at the last second. Sullivan conceded on this point in his own post, saying that he opted to stay because he thought Stewart would be a professional.
Stewart closed his thread with a final shot, tweeting, "And can we stop with the lazy 'woke' shit anytime someone disagrees with a conservative. F--- man."
In his Substack, Sullivan said that when he was asked about appearing on the show, his initial response was, "Why would I go on a show just to be called a racist?" He said he was assured, "Nothing like that would happen. This is not a debate. It’s just you talking one-on-one with Jon, and he’d never do that."
This was, as Stewart alluded to in his tweet, within a day or so until the show was set to tape. He also pre-emptively countered Stewart's assertion that he'd been informed via email about the show by saying he hadn't had time to read his emails.
He did not mention texts, but did say he was told at the last minute that there would, in fact, be other guests and that he was given an out if he wanted to take it. "But I didn’t want to leave them in the lurch, reassured myself that Stewart was a pro, and said I’d go ahead."
Sullivan said he expected Stewart to moderate, to "entertain counter-arguments" and that he "wouldn't demonize or curse at a guest." That's not what happened, as Stewart and his guests pushed back at Sullivan's perspective.
"This is the poisonous heart of CRT: that white people, by virtue of merely existing, are all morally problematic and always will be," Sullivan wrote. "Even if all the systems have been repealed. Even if you’d never racially discriminate yourself. Even if you spent your life fighting racism."
He said as much on the show, pushing back against fellow guest Lisa Bond when she said that white men have had 400 years to do something about racism and they haven't. Sullivan pushed back with the old adage that he's not responsible for anything that happened before him, which doesn't address the fact that some of those systems built centuries ago still haven't been changed.
He also cited the "failure of the Black family structure" as another familiar conservative talking point when it comes to the topic of systemic racism and privilege. The discussion of "white privilege" meaning that white people have an advantage in getting ahead in America over their Black counterparts is backed up by plenty of data and statistics, but it's uncomfortable for white people to talk about -- which is why Stewart was doing it.
Sullivan pushed back at the "white supremacy" narrative, arguing that most immigrants are non-white and they'd never come to America if it was a white supremacist country. He also said there are no "racist systems" at work today, at which point Stewart offered several examples.
You can check out the whole exchange and draw your own conclusions below: