US lawmakers want Apple to explain its problem with Jon Stewart's Apple TV Plus show and whether China was involved

The Problem with Jon Stewart key art
(Image credit: Apple)

Following the news that Apple TV Plus show The Problem With Jon Stewart had been canceled some wondered why that might be. Others pondered whether Stewart's outspoken views on China — an important business center for Apple — might have had something to do with it. Now U.S. lawmakers are wondering the same thing.

Apple relies on China for a chunk of its manufacturing capacity while it's also a key source of sales. For that reason, it has been accused of playing ball with the country in ways some would prefer it didn't. With Stewart notoriously outspoken on subjects including China, there was always going to be a suggestion that Apple chose to end its association with the comedian to protect its relationship with Chinese authorities. Now, members of a special House committee have written to Apple to ask what's going on.

Stewart himself didn't help matters with reports claiming that he wanted full creative control of the series, something that Apple wouldn't agree to. The show was ultimately canceled over that decision which suggests Apple TV Plus chose China over one of its biggest stars.

'Impeded from offering commentary on the CCP'

Deadline reports that the letter, addressed to Apple by the House of Representatives’ Select Committee on Competition with the Chinese Communist Party, said that any decision made based on a relationship with China "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."

The letter continued, adding that "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 lawmakers want Apple to offer a briefing by December 15, and it'll also reach out to Stewart's representatives to get their side of the story, too.

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Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.