Jon Stewart apologized to his audience Thursday night: the American comedian was not in the mood to tell jokes.
“I didn’t do my job today, so I apologize. I got nothing for you,” the Daily Show host said, after the deadly shooting at a historical black church in South Carolina left nine people dead.
“I honestly have nothing other than just sadness, once again, that we have to peer into the abyss of the depraved violence that we do to each other in the nexus of a gaping racial wound that will not heal yet we pretend does not exist.”
Dylann Storm Roof, a white 21-year-old, shot and killed nine black congregants as they prayed at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina on Wednesday night.
In a photo posted to Facebook, Roof can be seen wearing a jacket with the apartheid-era flags of South Africa and Rhodesia. Roof’s roommate, Dalton Tyler, told ABC News he had wanted to start a civil war.
“This is a terrorist attack,” Stewart said in the segment.
“This is a violent attack on the Emmanuel church in South Carolina which is a symbol for the black community. It has stood in that part of Charleston for 100 and some years, and has been attacked viciously many times, as many black churches have.
“I heard someone on the news say, ‘Tragedy has visited this church.’ This wasn’t a tornado. This was a racist. This was a guy with a Rhodesia badge on his sweater.
“I hate to even use this pun, but this one is black and white. There’s no nuance here.”
People quickly praised the usually-jubilant Stewart on social media for his somber and honest monologue.
“Jon Stewart is a national treasure and we’re better off as a society for having had him on our TVs for so long,” one Twitter user posted. “Jon Stewart proved tonight once again, why he is perhaps ‘The Most Trusted Person in News’ today,” said another.
“The Confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for Confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him. We’re bringing it on ourselves,” Stewart said on the show.
Earlier in the segment, he said “the part that blows (his) mind,” is that despite acknowledging what happened, “we still won’t do jacks--t.”
If the attack was perpetrated by foreign or Islamic terrorists, he said, the response would be different. Groups like Al Qaeda and ISIS, he added, are “not s--t compared to the damage we can apparently do to ourselves on a regular basis.”
“We invaded two countries and spent trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives and now fly unmanned death machines over like five or six different countries – all to keep America safe.
“Nine people shot in a church, what about that?”
Comedian Larry Wilmore also addressed the shooting on his show Thursday.
“I know we talk about race a lot on this show, but I think we can all agree this time that this is a racially-motivated attack,” Wilmore said.
“It couldn’t be clearer when it comes out of the killer’s mouth. But even with all of that evidence, and on a day like today, Fox News just makes my f-----g head explode.”
He then showed clips from the right-wing network, in which Fox reporters and guests seemed unsure about the killer’s motives, and questioned whether Roof could have actually been targeting Christians.
“I know you guys don’t want to admit that racial stuff is going on, but how can there be any doubt when it came out of the gunman’s mouth?” Wilmore said.
“He told his victims, ‘I want to shoot black people.’ I think when he says black people he means black people, and not Christians. . . . He is being very clear. Nobody thinks Christians are going around raping everybody and taking over the country, all right?”