Jon Stewart says Apple asked him not to host FTC Chair Lina Khan

It also wouldn't let him do a segment called 'the false promise of AI.'

SFC Jim Greenhill

Jon Stewart hosted FTC (Federal Trade Commission) chair Lina Khan on his weekly Daily Show segment yesterday, but Stewart's own revelations were just as interesting as Khan's. During the sit-down, Stewart admitted that Apple asked him not to host Khan on a podcast, which was an extension of his The Problem with Jon Stewart Apple TV+ show at the time.

"I wanted to have you on a podcast and Apple asked us not to do it," Stewart told Khan. "They literally said, 'Please don’t talk to her.'"

In fact, the entire episode appeared to have a "things Apple wouldn't let us do" theme. Ahead of the Khan interview, Stewart did a segment on artificial intelligence he called "the false promise of AI," effectively debunking altruistic claims of AI leaders and positing that it was strictly designed to replace human employees.

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

"I think it just shows the danger of what happens when you concentrate so much power and so much decision making in a small number of companies," Khan replied.

The Problem With Jon Stewart was abruptly cancelled ahead of its third season, reportedly following clashes over potential AI and China segments. That prompted US lawmakers to question Apple, seeking to know if the decision had anything to do with possible criticism of China.

While stating that Apple has the right to stream any content it wants, "the coercive tactics of a foreign power should not be directly or indirectly influencing these determinations," the bipartisan committee wrote. (Apple's response to this, if any, has yet to be released.)

Stewart didn't say that the AI and Khan interview issues were the reason his show was cancelled, but they do indicate that Apple asserted editorial influence over issues that directly involved it.

Elsewhere in the segment, Khan discussed the FTC's lawsuit against Amazon, stating that the FTC alleges the company is a monopoly maintained via illegal practices (exorbitant seller fees, shady ads). They also touched on the FTC's lawsuit against Facebook, tech company collusion via AI, corporate consolidation, exorbitant drug prices and more.