Jon Stewart Says Wuhan Lab Leak 'Not a Conspiracy' on Stephen Colbert

Jon Stewart has suggested that the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic is the direct result of a laboratory leak from Wuhan, China.

Making an appearance CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday—the show's first episode with a live studio audience since the pandemic upended production in March 2020—Stewart pointed the finger at the Wuhan Institute of Virology as he discussed the origins of the virus, which has gripped much of the world since early 2020.

The former host of The Daily Show said: "I think we owe a great debt of gratitude to science. Science has, in many ways, helped ease the suffering of this pandemic—which was more than likely caused by science."

With the studio audience breaking into raucous laughter, host Stephen Colbert performatively sipped from his coffee mug, before asking Stewart for clarification.

"Do you mean perhaps there's a chance that this was created in a lab? There's an investigation," said Colbert, prompting Stewart to shoot back: "A chance? Oh my god!"

Mockingly taking on the stance of an investigator, Stewart then said: "Novel respiratory coronavirus overtaking Wuhan, China. What do we do? Oh, you know who we could ask? The Wuhan Novel Respiratory Coronavirus Lab."

"The disease is the same name as the lab," he went on. "That's just a little too weird, don't you think? And then you have some scientists who are like, 'So wait a minute, you work at the Wuhan Respiratory Coronavirus Lab. How did this happen?' And they're like, 'Mmmm, a pangolin kissed a turtle?'

"No! Look at the name! Show me your business card! 'Oh, I work at the Coronavirus Lab in Wuhan. Oh, because there's a coronavirus loose in Wuhan. How did that happen?' 'Maybe a bat flew into the cloaca of a turkey and then it sneezed into my chili and now we all have coronavirus.' Like, come on!"

Stewart then shared a closer-to-home analogy, saying: "Oh my god, there's been an outbreak of chocolatey goodness near Hershey, Pennsylvania. What do you think happened? Like, oh, I don't know. Maybe a steam shovel mated with a cocoa bean—or it's the f***ing chocolate factory! Maybe that's it!"

"That could very well be," said Colbert, as he noted that officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, have backed investigations into the origins of the virus.

He also countered Stewart's theory, saying: "It could be possible that they have the lab in Wuhan to study the novel coronavirus diseases because in Wuhan there are a lot of coronavirus diseases because of the bat population there."

"I understand," responded Stewart, before sarcastically continuing: "It's the local specialty. And it's the only place to find bats. You won't find bats anywhere else!

"Oh wait—Austin, Texas has thousands of them that fly out of a cave every night—every night at dusk! Is there an Austin coronavirus? No, there doesn't seem to be an Austin coronavirus! The only coronavirus we have is in Wuhan..."

Colbert then jokingly asked Stewart how long he had been "working for Senator Ron Johnson," the Wisconsin politician who was recently suspended for seven days from YouTube after being found in violation of the platform's COVID-19 misinformation policies.

"This is not a conspiracy!" Stewart said. "But this is the problem with science. Science is incredible, but they don't know when to stop and no one in the room with those cats ever goes, 'I don't know if we should do that.' They're like, 'curiosity killed the cat, so let's kill 10,000 cats to find out why.'"

Stewart then leaped from his seat and spoke directly to the camera, as he said: "I have been alone so long. And when I realized that the laboratory was having the same name—first name and last name—of the evil that had been plaguing us, I thought to myself, that's f***ed up."

Following a commercial break, Stewart told Colbert, per The Daily Beast: "Can I say this about scientists? I love them and they do such good work but they are going to kill us all."

Last week, former President Donald Trump demanded that China "pay reparations" for the pandemic, arguing that even $10 trillion "wouldn't cover" the damage.

"China and the China virus—they have to pay reparations. We've been hurt so badly in terms of death, human life," Trump said in a video message livestreamed Saturday during MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's MAGA Frank Free Speech rally at the River's Edge Apple River concert venue in New Richmond, Wisconsin.

Trump continued: "And in terms of monetarily, to a level that they have to pay us. And frankly, if they paid us $10 trillion that wouldn't cover it. But they really have to pay the world because this started in the world—the entire world has been, not only disrupted, but it's almost been destroyed."

In May, Trump's successor President Joe Biden ordered intelligence services to carry out an investigation into the origins of COVID-19—including a probe into whether the novel coronavirus leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

"As of today, the U.S. Intelligence Community has 'coalesced around two likely scenarios' but has not reached a definitive conclusion on this question," said Biden.

"I have now asked the intelligence community to redouble their efforts to collect and analyze information that could bring us closer to a definitive conclusion, and to report back to me in 90 days," Biden explained. "As part of that report, I have asked for areas of further inquiry that may be required, including specific questions for China."

Chinese officials have pushed back against criticism, with the government expressing frustration after the announcement of the investigation was revealed.

"Political forces have been fixated on political manipulation and blame game" since the outbreak began, the Embassy of China in Washington, D.C. said in a statement in May.

Newsweek has contacted the Embassy of China in Washington, D.C. for comment.

Jon Stewart shares COVID-19 theory
Jon Stewart shared his theory on the origins of the novel coronavirus when he made an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Monday night. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert/CBS/YouTube