Jon Stewart returned to late night on Monday, where he appeared to back the lab leak theory behind the origins of Covid-19.
Appearing on friend and former co-worker Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, the former Daily Show host said that the theory that the virus ravaging the planet was created in anything but the lab in the city it started in was a stretch.
"There’s a novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China," Stewart said on the show.
"Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan novel respiratory coronavirus lab.”
"The disease is the same name as the lab!” he continued, referring to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. “That’s just a little too weird, don’t you think?"
He continued: "There’s a chance this was created in a lab. There’s an investigation,” referring to the Biden administration’s decision to look into the lab leak theory. “If there was evidence I would love to hear it, I just don’t know."
"So wait a minute, you work at the Wuhan respiratory coronavirus lab, and they’re like, a turtle kissed a penguin?" Stewart joked. "Maybe a bat flew into the cloaca of a turkey, and then it sneezed into my chili, and now we all have coronavirus.”
"Oh my God, there’s been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened?" he continued. "Oh I don’t know, maybe a steam shovel mated with a cocoa bean? Or it’s the f---ing chocolate factory! Maybe that’s it."
Stewart was the guest on Colbert’s first show in front of a full studio audience since March 2020, continuing a longstanding tradition of the duo being a part of major milestones on their respective TV shows.
On Twitter, people are struggling to figure out exactly how much Stewart was joking about the theory on the pandemic that caused the show to shut down to begin with. But the investigation by this administration is still on, with Biden calling on China to be a part of it at the G7 summit last week.
One viewer wrote: “He’s spitting harmful conspiracy theories… so that’s fun.”
And speaking toTMZ Live, Dr Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and co-director of the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, urged Stewart and others to be more prudent when discussing the potential origin of the pandemic.
“Right now, the reality is there is no smoking gun to say that it’s of laboratory origin,” he said, adding that “it’s not impossible”, but more information is needed at this stage.
“They’re putting the entertainment value of this above what’s reality,” Dr Hotez added. “It causes a lot of damage because a number of scientists who work on coronaviruses including myself feel that we’re under attack right now.”