louis c.k.

Marc Maron Says Louis C.K. Lied to Him When Confronted With Sexual-Harassment Rumors

Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Marc Maron says he’d heard rumors about Louis C.K. forcing women to watch him masturbate, but that C.K. lied to him about it when asked. On the November 13 episode of his podcast WTF, Maron recounted his conversation with C.K. about the blind items that detailed his misconduct: “Sadly, I knew what most people knew: There was a story out there, I guess going back several years, there were unnamed people in the story, it took place in a hotel room in Aspen. It was always out there, but then it would pick up momentum at different times,” Maron said. “And I would ask him about it. I would say, ‘This story about you forcing these women to watch you jerk off, what is that, is that true?’ He goes, ‘No, it’s not true. It’s not real. It’s a rumor.’ And I would say, ‘Well, are you going to address it somehow? Handle it? Get out from under it whenever it shows up?’ ‘No I can’t, I can’t do that. I can’t give it life, give it air.’ That was the conversation.”

That C.K.’s misconduct could be dismissed for so long highlights larger problems in comedy, Maron says: There’s no place women can go to report their mistreatment, and men lack the empathy to believe them. “So when it comes to believing women, I want to believe women, but in this particular instance, there was no one named in that [Louis C.K. blind item], there was no place for women to go tell this story, there were no women attached to it. I didn’t know their names until Friday,” Maron said. “So I believed my friend. It’s just that the environment enabled the dismissiveness of it. How do I put this? The work environment, the social environment makes it difficult for people to come forward and be heard, to be listened to, to be believed, and for action to be taken around that. It is pushed aside, it is dismissed, it is framed as an annoyance or an embarrassment, it is used against people, it is used as a threat, that is the structure that exists in life.”

Empathy requires work, Maron says, and a sensitivity to power dynamics and inequality. “It’s hard to understand that that power dynamic is real and it exists, because things have been the way they are for a long time,” Maron said. He then recounts a story from his time in college: Once, after dinner, a professor he admired and was friendly with kissed him unexpectedly. Maron says he froze in the moment, but it made the rest of their classes deeply uncomfortable: “It’s scarring, even if it’s mundane. What I went through was mundane — there were no cocks involved — but it’s something women go through all the time. It was a disrespect of personal boundaries.”

Marc Maron Says Louis C.K. Lied When Confronted With Rumors