This post was last updated at 5:47 p.m.
Comedian Trevor Noah, who was named on Monday to succeed Jon Stewart as host of Comedy Central's The Daily Show, is being criticized for tweets he sent more than a year ago that critics say are sexist and anti-Semitic. Noah's defenders, including Comedy Central, are calling the criticism "unfair." Noah says that to reduce his views to a few tweets is neither a reflection of his character nor his comedic evolution.
Updated at 5:38 p.m.
Trevor Noah has responded to the criticism directed at him:
To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn't land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian.— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) March 31, 2015
Updated at 4 p.m.
Comedy Central has now responded to the criticism directed at comedian Trevor Noah. In a statement cited by Politico, it said:
"Like many comedians, Trevor Noah pushes boundaries; he is provocative and spares no one, himself included. To judge him or his comedy based on a handful of jokes is unfair. Trevor is a talented comedian with a bright future at Comedy Central."
Our original post continues:
Trevor Noah, if you haven't heard by now, will replace Jon Stewart as host of Comedy Central's Daily Show.
Noah joined Twitter in June 2009. Since then, he has tweeted nearly 9,000 times. Among those tweets are several that mock women and Jews — tweets that critics have called sexist and anti-Semitic. Here are three (Fair Warning: Some readers may find these offensive — or perhaps just not funny):
Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) May 12, 2014
Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn't look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) September 18, 2009
Reaction to the tweets, many of which were made more than a year ago, was swift on Tuesday.
New Daily Show Host Trevor Noah Is Anti-Senitic Jew-Basher On Twitterhttp://t.co/6IINNvVI7H#RFRA DUNG IN - DUNG OUT pic.twitter.com/LBxw6tmeGE— Ministry Of Truth ✒️ (@USABillOfRights) March 31, 2015
Jews, "untermenschen", "fat chicks" & "girls with big asses" - subjects of @Trevornoah's low-brow humour. Jon Stewart's replacement, folks!— Ariana Gic Perry (@ArianaGicPerry) March 31, 2015
Writing in Vox, Kelsey McKinney said: "A Daily Show host should be held to a higher standard than other comedians."
But others pointed out that Noah has also spoken out against prejudice — citing this Twitter interaction:
Some people like comedy until you make them think. You laugh at Zuma jokes but can't laugh at apartheid jokes? #voetsek— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) October 31, 2012
@Trevornoah I get worried when young South Africans are still caught up on Apartheid. We weren't even there.....— Mrs Clarke (@EmyDiesel) October 31, 2012
@EmyDiesel so young Jews shouldn't get caught up in the holocaust? It's up to the youth to fix the past.— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) October 31, 2012
A backhanded defense came in the form of comedian Daniel Tosh:
to be fair to trevor noah, all foreign comics are at least a decade behind us in what they think is funny. #fakeoutrage— daniel tosh (@danieltosh) March 31, 2015
Then there was this:
Welp, R.I.P Trevor Noah. You've experienced what American Blacks refer to as The Grand Opening/Grand Closing.— Black Guy Emeritus (@ReverendDrDash) March 31, 2015
A more full-throated defense came from Caitlin Dewey in The Washington Post.
"Because human beings are, in reality, flawed: prone to errors in judgment or youthful indiscretions or drunk texts/tweets/status updates they really never should have sent. A lot of people have made bad jokes in their 20s. The only difference now is that those jokes are memorialized forever on the Internet — and readily ripped out of their chronological context, and away from their intended audience, as contemporary proof of their sender's bias or stupidity or ill intent."
Dave Weigel has written on Bloomberg Politics about how Noah went from "progressive icon to villain in 24 hours."