Following up on a tweet promising to discuss the issue more on his show and “not [on] a shitty platform like Twitter,” on today’s episode of WTF, Marc Maron discussed the sexual misconduct charges against his friend Louis CK at length. Maron and CK have had a rocky relationship over the years—an early episode of WTF saw the two talking through their issues on the podcast—but in his monologue/statement, Maron said he’d remain friends with CK (“It’s probably the best time to be his friend when he needs to make some changes in his life and, you know, I can learn from it. He can learn from it, I hope”) while saying, “I certainly can’t condone anything he did. There was no way to justify it, there’s no way to defend it… There’s no way to let him off the hook.”
Maron was defensive when addressing the question of how much he knew about CK’s behavior, saying, “I know what most people knew,” namely that something had happened at the Aspen Comedy Festival but he didn’t know exactly what or who was involved until the New York Times article about CK came out last week. “[When] people do shameful shit, they do everything they can to hide it,” he said, adding that he had asked CK about “this story about you forcing these women to watch you jerk off” and was told it was an untrue “rumor” that CK couldn’t address because that would be validating it. (This is remarkably similar to the answer CK gave The New York Times in an interview at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, and what CK told Vulture in an interview last year.)
Maron went on to ponder the power dynamics at play in the situation, admitting his own issues with empathy and difficulty with seeing things from women’s points of view, especially the struggles female comics go through (also the subject of stories in The New York Times and the Chicago Sun-Times this weekend) and the issues women face in the workplace.
“When you have man brain or are not capable of empathizing properly with women… to find that empathy, it requires some sort of vigilance,” he said. “Especially if you’re doing it in a work situation, in a situation where there’s a power dynamic.” He went on to acknowledge the lack of female writers on his IFC show, Maron, how he, too, took advantage of power dynamics by dating fans, and shared his own experience with sexual assault: a male professor he admired who forcibly kissed him after a night of drinking in college.
Most of Maron’s comments were on empathy, calling for men to understand why, even though CK didn’t technically touch any of the women accusing him of sexual misconduct, his actions were abusive nonetheless. “The big deal is that it’s boundary shattering. It is traumatizing. It is unexpected. It is shaming… If you just let yourself feel what all those women when through—even if it didn’t seem violent to you, or rape, or any of that shit—just the fact that these were women who worked with Louie… You gotta understand that. It’s respect. And the way forward for us in all these workplaces, in life, is to make sure that these voices are heard and that they feel that they can be heard,” Maron said.
It’s a long, messy, personal, sometimes frustrating statement, and you can either listen to it at the top of this week’s episode of WTF or read it in full as transcribed by New York Times culture writer Sopan Deb below.