Comedy Central is backing up its new “Daily Show” host, Trevor Noah, after his social media history came back to haunt him.
Just a day after Comedy Central announced that Noah will succeed Jon Stewart as host of the satirical news program, Noah came under fire Tuesday for jokes on his Twitter account that many on the social media site are calling sexist and anti-Semitic.
The cable channel issued a statement in support of Noah after the matter was widely reported on websites and became a discussion topic on progressive cable news network MSNBC.
“Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included,” the network statement. “To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central.”
Noah also took to Twitter to post his own defense.
"To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian," he wrote.
Some of the tweets go back to 2009, but others are as recent as last May.
Among the tweets that have been criticized:
“Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel.”
“Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would [have] felt so bad in my german car!”
“I like women that don’t wear make up. For me they’re like pizza - still great the next morning!”
“get drunk & think that ‘I’m sexy!’ - fat chicks everywhere”
"Originally when men proposed they went down on one knee so if the woman said no they were in the perfect uppercut position."
Most of the backlash toward Noah has been from other Twitter accounts. The Anti-Defamation League issued a gentle rebuke that asked Noah and Comedy Central to aim higher once he takes over "The Daily Show."
"We hope he will not cross the line from legitimate satire into offensiveness with jokes calling up anti-Semitic stereotypes and misogyny," the ADL statement read. "And we hope that he and Comedy Central will make a conscious effort to ensure 'The Daily Show' remains funny and irreverent without trafficking in bigoted jokes at the expense of Jews, other minorities and women."
The hiring of Noah, a biracial 31-year-old comic from South Africa, to replace Jon Stewart was considered a surprisingly bold and forward-thinking move.
Now the narrative of his story has quickly turned to the Twitter comments, revealing the risk of taking a chance on an unknown quantity.
If the issue does not go away and Noah becomes a polarizing figure, it could be damaging to the prospects of "The Daily Show" after Stewart leaves later this year. While advertisers who buy time on "The Daily Show" know they are getting edgy comedy, an ugly controversy could lead them to take their dollars elsewhere.
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