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Jon Stewart clarifies comments he made about depiction of goblins in 'Harry Potter'

"I cannot stress this enough,” the former “Daily Show” host said. “I’m not accusing J.K. Rowling of being antisemitic."
Image: Jon Stewart
 Jon Stewart, pictured Sept. 5, 2018, recently criticized the author J.K. Rowling and the "Harry Potter" franchise in an episode of his podcast.Nathan Congleton / NBC

Former “Daily Show” host Jon Stewart on Wednesday clarified remarks he made during a December podcast episode in which he called out the portrayal of goblins in the "Harry Potter" franchise.

"There is no reasonable person that could have watched it and not seen it as a lighthearted conversation amongst colleagues and chums ... enjoying ourselves about Harry Potter, and my experience watching it for the first time in a theater as a Jewish guy, and how some tropes are so embedded in society that they’re basically invisible even in a considered process like moviemaking," he said in a video, which he tweeted Wednesday.

"I cannot stress this enough," he said. "I’m not accusing J.K. Rowling of being antisemitic. She need not answer to any of it, I don’t want the Harry Potter movies censored in any way. It was a lighthearted conversation."

The clarification comes after the Dec. 16 episode of “The Problem with Jon Stewart” podcast garnered headlines this week from a variety of news outlets.

In a tweet Wednesday, Stewart responded to a Newsweek article with the headline "Jon Stewart accuses J.K. Rowling of antisemitism in 'Harry Potter.'"

"No I didn't," he wrote.

In the podcast episode, he drew a comparison between the goblins that work at Gringotts Wizarding Bank and illustrations featured in “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” which is widely considered antisemitic.

“Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” Stewart said in the podcast. “Talking to people, here’s what I say: Have you ever seen a ‘Harry Potter’ movie? Have you ever seen the scenes in Gringotts Bank? Do you know what those folks who run the bank are? Jews! And they’re like, ‘Oh, from ‘Harry Potter!’” And you’re like, ‘No, that’s a caricature of a Jew from an antisemitic piece of literature.’”

Rowling has been regularly criticized over the past few years for her comments about the transgender community, which critics have called transphobic.

Stewart called the news articles surrounding his podcast comments "bonkers," and noted that the podcast was taped a month ago, or "two covid mutations ago."

"This morning I wake up, it’s trending on Twitter and here’s the headline from Twitter: 'Jon Stewart accuses J.K. Rowling of antisemitism,'" he said. "Let me just say this: Super clearly as clearly as I can, can I get a close up?... Hello, my name is Jon Stewart, I do not think J.K. Rowling is antisemitic, I did not accuse her of being antisemitic, I do not think that the Harry Potter movies are anti-semitic, I really love the Harry Potter movies, probably too much for a gentleman of my considerable age. So I would just like to say that none of that is true, and not a reasonable person could not have looked at that conversation and not found it lighthearted."