Why Congress Is Investigating Apple for Canceling Jon Stewart's Show

Reports about why Apple discontinued the series raised some red flags for the House of Representatives.

In October, after airing two seasons, The Problem With Jon Stewart was canceled by Apple TV+. The New York Times reported at the time that the cancelation was over creative differences between the streaming service and creator and host Jon Stewart. Now, what those creative differences entail have caught the attention of Congress. A special committee has announced that it's investigating Apple for axing Stewart's show.

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On Oct. 19, The New York Times reported that Stewart and executives at Apple had decided to go their separate ways only a couple of weeks before the third season of the current events show was set to begin filming. Two people close to the decision told the newspaper that the former Daily Show host and Apple had disagreements over some of the guests and subject matter for the series.

According to The New York Times, "Mr. Stewart told members of his staff on Thursday that potential show topics related to China and artificial intelligence were causing concern among Apple executives, a person with knowledge of the meeting said." On top of this, coverage of the upcoming 2024 presidential election was said to be a potential cause for concern. As NYT notes, controversial topics could cause backlash for Apple, which is not just a streaming platform but a large technology company. Apple did not provide any comment on those claims to the newspaper.

A piece in The Hollywood Reporter quoted sources that said Apple told Stewart that they needed to be "aligned" when it came to the show's topics. Stewart didn't like the idea of being "hamstrung" by the company, and when they threatened to cancel the show, he decided to leave rather than give up creative control.

Now, Reuters reports that Congress is asking Apple to explain its decision to cancel the show, specifically because of the reported concern over The Problem's coverage of China.

"While companies have the right to determine what content is appropriate for their streaming service, the coercive tactics of a foreign power should not be directly or indirectly influencing these determinations," reads a public letter from the leaders of the House of Representatives' Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party that is addressed to Apple CEO Tim Cook. The committee is asking for a response from Apple by Dec. 15. They also want to speak to representatives for Stewart.

"To reassure the creative community in light of these reports, we also respectfully request that Apple publicly commit that content that could be perceived as critical of the CCP or the PRC is welcome on Apple TV+ and other Apple services," the letter continues. It concludes, "We support the ability of artists, writers, studios, and streaming services alike to create content without fear of potential CCP retaliation and punishment. We similarly encourage American technology companies to diversify their supply chains, reduce their potential susceptibility to CCP pressure, and decrease their overall dependence on the PRC."

Best Life has reached out to Apple and a representative for Stewart for comment.

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Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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