If you look to the trending section of your Twitter homepage today, you may wonder why #TheDailyShowGoneTooFar is on the list of topics. Is it about last night's finally-aired segment about Redskins fans being forced to face Native Americans upset about the name? Surprisingly, it's not; while The Daily Show is covering a racial controversy on one end, it's quietly becoming embroiled in another online.
On Tuesday's show, the last one we recapped here at The Wire, Jon Stewart and his team aired a segment about the new war in Syria involving airstrikes against ISIS. While we covered the first part of the show, there was an extension to the segment involving correspondent Jessica Williams. In it, Williams joked about the quickly multiplying terrorist groups in the Middle East, including one terrorist "supergroup," as Stewart called it.
The clip above includes Williams' offending joke around 2:12, but we've also transcribed it below:
Just as you were talking, a new terrorist group has formed, with one member each from ISIS, Al Nusra, Al Qaeda, Hamas, One Direction and the Zetas drug cartel."
To be clear, that's the entirety of the joke – Williams never mentions Malik by name. But because Malik is half-British Pakistani, and because his mother converted to his father's Islam and raised Malik in that tradition ("I made sure the children went to the mosque. Zayn has read the Koran three times," she told BBC News), fans seem to have inferred that Williams was referring to him.
Those Directioners quickly leapt to Malik's defense, claiming that using Malik's ethnicity or religion as reasoning for why he'd be a terrorist is wrong:
terrorism isnt a joke & usin zayn for ur cheap jokes isnt either religion & ethnicity doesn't define who a person is #TheDailyShowGoneTooFar— 5sos_1D_thanksNash (@RoxanaDream) September 26, 2014
Some tried to explain the many ways he wasn't a terrorist, arguing against, I guess, all the people
who really thought he was a terrorist:
Some took a more aggressive approach to dealing with The Daily Show:
And yet some reasonable voices in the darkness are pointing out that leaping to the assumption that Williams was talking about Malik is:
#TheDailyShowGoneTooFar people are ridiculous. The daily show never called Zayn a terrorist or insisted he was one because of his religion— Tyler Ware (@zwar074) September 26, 2014
Directioners are known for being fiery fans, but at least in this case, the facts aren't quite on their side. Of course, this isn't the first campaign against a Comedy Central late-night talk show this year – and we all know how #CancelColbert ended up, after all.