"Why are they so afraid?": Jon Stewart says Apple refused to let him interview FTC Chair Lina Khan

"They wouldn't let us do even that dumb thing we just did in the first act on AI," Stewart said

By Nardos Haile

Staff Writer

Published April 2, 2024 11:10AM (EDT)

Lina Khan and Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central)
Lina Khan and Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" (Comedy Central)

Jon Stewart was not shy on Monday about calling out his former employer, Apple, for prohibiting him from interviewing Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan.

On the latest episode of "The Daily Show," Stewart focused on pressing topics like unregulated tech companies, artificial intelligence, monopolies and how they already have had a lasting and grave impact on the 2024 election and American society and politics.

Stewart began the episode with a segment on AI: starting with deepfake photos of both presidential candidates skewing people's realities, robo calls of President Joe Biden telling people not to vote during Super Tuesday, and even digitally altered photos of Donald Trump campaigning with Black and brown communities. 

To address concerns about unchecked tech monopolies, the "Daily Show" host invited Khan to sit in the hot seat and answer questions about the growing tech conglomerates in the country. Khan shared that the government feels that tech companies like Amazon, Facebook and Apple are violating antitrust laws and effectively wiping out other competition through mergers or are making their platforms harder to use for consumers so they can profit off of users and small businesses. 

Then Stewart addressed the elephant in the room for him — his AppleTV+ show "The Problem with John Stewart."

"I wanted to have you on a podcast and Apple asked us not to do it," Stewart said.

The show was canceled after two seasons due to Stewart and Apple executives parting ways over creative differences. Stewart and Apple did not agree on Stewart's zeal to cover topics like AI and China, the New York Times reported.

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"They wouldn't let us do even that dumb thing we just did in the first act on AI," Stewart continued. "Like, what is that sensitivity? Why are they so afraid to even have these conversations out in the public sphere?"

Khan answered Stewart's question, "I think it just shows one of the dangers of what happens when you concentrate so much power and so much decision-making in a small number of companies."

"Going back to the founding, there was a recognition that in the same way that you need the Constitution to create checks and balances in our political sphere, you also need antitrust laws and anti-monopoly laws to safeguard against a concentration of economic power because you don't want an autocrat of trade in the same way you don't want a monarch," she continued.

Stewart posed a question about the looming threat of tech companies controlling AI. 

"There's no inevitable outcome here," Khan said. "We are the decision makers. So we need to use the policy tools and levers that we have to make sure that the technologies are proceedings on a trajectory that benefits Americans and were not subjected to more of the risks and harms."

"The Daily Show" airs Monday through Thursday at 11 p.m. on Comedy Central and streams on Paramount+.

By Nardos Haile

Nardos Haile is a staff writer at Salon covering culture. She’s previously covered all things entertainment, music, fashion and celebrity culture at The Associated Press. She resides in Brooklyn, NY.

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2024 Election Apple Jon Stewart Lina Khan The Daily Show The Problem With Jon Stewart