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‘I honestly don’t know what to say’; Jon Stewart gets serious on Eric Garner

Comedy Central

"I honestly don't know what to say. If comedy is tragedy plus time, I need more (expletive) time."

That was Jon Stewart's response to a Staten Island grand jury decision not to indict the NYPD officer who placed Eric Garner in an apparent chokehold in the summer. The unarmed black man later died.

Stewart added at the opening of Wednesday's "Daily Show": "...but I would really settle for less (expletive) tragedy, to be honest with you."

"The Daily Show" host played it serious during the opening segment, comparing the Garner case to last week's Ferguson grand jury decision, which also resulted in no indictment for a white cop who killed an unarmed black man.

"None of the ambiguities that existed in the Ferguson case exist in the Staten Island case," Stewart said, "and yet the outcome is exactly the same."

The July confrontation between Garner and Officer Daniel Pantaleo was videotaped; the widely-circulated footage of Pantaleo holding Garner's neck in an apparent chokehold as the man repeatedly says, "I can't breathe," prompted outrage in New York and beyond. Garner died just weeks before officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo.

The Ferguson case, however, was not filmed. Prosecutors there presented conflicting witness accounts of the confrontation to the grand jury.

But Stewart said that in contrast to the Ferguson case, the Staten Island case appeared to be clear. "Here, there is is none of that [ambiguity]. The coroner called it homicide, the guy's not acting threatening, and we know that because we are (expletive) watching it. Someone taped it."

"To look at the bright side, we're about to save ourselves a (expletive) of money on cop-camera vests," Stewart added of one of the Obama administration's proposed solutions to incidents like those in Ferguson and Staten Island. "I assume that the solution that they're proposing, if implemented, would look something like the Eric Garner case." 

"We are definitely not living in a post-racial society." Stewart added, "and I can imagine there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of a society we're living in at all."

"So that's our show!" the host joked, asking for a video segue back to comedy. The segment ends with some kittens being unspeakably adorable.