Members of a special House committee fired off a letter to Apple, questioning whether the decision to cancel The Problem with Jon Stewart was due to concerns over the company’s relationship with China.
Last month, it was announced that the Apple+ show was ending, and The New York Times reported that Stewart told members of his staff that the company was concerned about some of the show’s topics, including China.
In a letter to CEO Tim Cook, the members of the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party wrote, “If these reports are accurate, it potentially speaks to broader concerns about indirect Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence over the creative expression of American artists and companies on CCP-related topics. It also highlights an additional reason, beyond the traditionally-cited national security rationales, why we encourage Apple to accelerate its efforts to reduce its dependence on the PRC in its core business.”
The letter was signed by the committee’s chairman, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) and its top Democrat, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-IL).
The lawmakers wrote, “If Jon Stewart can potentially be impeded from offering commentary on the CCP, what does this mean for less prominent personalities? While there is a chance that a high-profile individual like Jon Stewart can locate another streaming service where he can express his views on PRC-related matters, an aspiring comedian who wants to use satire to make broader points about human rights and authoritarianism faces even bleaker prospects. Respectfully, we believe that this needs to change and responsible creative professionals should be able to freely write and perform on PRC-related topics.”
The committee also wrote, “To reassure the creative community in light of these reports, we also respectfully request that Apple publicly commit that content that could be perceived as critical of the CCP or the PRC is welcome on Apple TV+ and other Apple services.”
The committee is asking for a briefing by the company by Dec. 15, and they also plan to speak to Stewart’s representatives.
A spokesperson for Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.
More to come.