Jon Stewart Says Dave Chappelle’s Intentions Are ‘Never Hurtful’ Amid Netflix Controversy

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TMZ briefly spoke with Jon Stewart outside of Capitol Hill about the backlash towards Dave Chappelle in wake of his Netflix special The Closer where he made insensitive remarks about the trans community.

Stewart avoided directly addressing the controversy, opting to speak about the type of person he believes Chappelle to be through their personal interactions. “That’s a different element, but I know, you know, he’s one of my favorite people on the planet,” he said. “He’s just a good, decent…if there’s miscommunication, I’m sure that communication is probably, hopefully the way through. But, like, I love that dude, as a person.”

Trans employees and advocates at Netflix staged a walkout and protest Wednesday in response to co-CEO Ted Sarandos’ defense of Chappelle’s comments in a leaked internal memo, along with the comedian’s dismissive attitude towards the outcry over his rhetoric, which many have called out as being transphobic. Sarandos later admitted he “screwed up the internal communication,” acknowledging that he handled the concerns expressed by a number of his employees poorly.

A representative for Chappelle told TMZ earlier today that he’s willing to engage in a dialogue with those who have an issue with The Closer and Stewart believes this could be a step in the right direction for both sides. “Look, if this spurs a conversation where people get more on the same page in terms of understanding, but I know his intention is never hurtful,” he said. “Like, he’s just not that kind of person, and if it is, it’s certainly unintentional. He’s a good man.”

Ashlee Marie Preston, one of the people who organized the walkout, said she reached out to Chappelle to discuss the special, however, his rep claims no such olive branch was extended.

Earlier this month, the National Black Justice Coalition urged the streaming giant to remove The Closer.

“With 2021 on track to be the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States — the majority of whom are Black transgender people — Netflix should know better,” NBJC executive director David Johns said in a statement. “Perpetuating transphobia perpetuates violence. Netflix should immediately pull The Closer from its platform and directly apologize to the transgender community.”

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