Apple wouldn’t let Jon Stewart interview FTC Chair Lina Khan, TV host claims

The Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s interview with FTC Chair Lina Khan. The conversation about Apple begins around 16:30 in the video.

Before the cancellation of The Problem with Jon Stewart on Apple TV+, Apple forbade the inclusion of Federal Trade Commission Chair Lina Khan as a guest and steered the show away from confronting issues related to artificial intelligence, according to Jon Stewart.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of this rift between Apple and Stewart. When the Apple TV+ show was canceled last October, reports circulated that he told his staff that creative differences over guests and topics were a factor in the decision.

The New York Times reported that both China and AI were sticking points between Apple and Stewart. Stewart confirmed the broad strokes of that narrative in a CBS Morning Show interview after it was announced that he would return to The Daily Show.

“They decided that they felt that they didn’t want me to say things that might get me into trouble,” he explained.

Stewart’s comments during his interview with Khan yesterday were the first time he’s gotten more specific publicly.

“I’ve got to tell you, I wanted to have you on a podcast, and Apple asked us not to do it—to have you. They literally said, ‘Please don’t talk to her,'” Stewart said while interviewing Khan on the April 1, 2024, episode of The Daily Show.

Khan appeared on the show to explain and evangelize the FTC’s efforts to battle corporate monopolies both in and outside the tech industry in the US and to explain the challenges the organization faces.

She became the FTC chair in 2021 and has since garnered a reputation for an aggressive and critical stance against monopolistic tendencies or practices among Big Tech companies like Amazon and Meta.

Stewart also confirmed previous reports that AI was a sensitive topic for Apple. “They wouldn’t let us do that dumb thing we did in the first act on AI,” he said, referring to the desk monologue segment that preceded the Khan interview in the episode.

The segment on AI in the first act of the episode mocked various tech executives for their utopian framing of AI and interspersed those claims with acknowledgments from many of the same leaders that AI would replace many people’s jobs. (It did not mention Apple or its leadership, though.)

Stewart and The Daily Show‘s staff also included clips of current tech leaders suggesting that workers be retrained to work with or on AI when their current roles are disrupted by it. That was followed by a montage of US political leaders promising to retrain workers after various technological and economic disruptions over the years, with the implication that those retraining efforts were rarely as successful as promised.

The segment effectively lampooned some of the doublespeak about AI, though Stewart stopped short of venturing any solutions or alternatives to the current path, so it mostly just prompted outrage and laughs.

The Daily Show host Jon Stewart’s segment criticizing tech and political leaders on the topic of AI.

Apple currently uses AI-related technologies in its software, services, and devices, but so far it has not launched anything tapping into generative AI, which is the new frontier in AI that has attracted worry, optimism, and criticism from various parties.

However, the company is expected to roll out its first generative AI features as part of iOS 18, a new operating system update for iPhones. iOS 18 will likely be detailed during Apple’s annual developer conference in June and will reach users’ devices sometime in the fall.

Listing image by Paramount

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