On Friday, The New Yorker published a bombshell story by Clare Malone detailing how comedian Hasan Minhaj, a former Daily Show correspondent and host of Netflix’s Patriot Act, had fabricated a number of stories that were featured on his show and in his stand-up routines, including being dumped by a prom date because of the color of his skin; that he’d recognized an FBI informant who’d been surveilling Muslim people in his community; that he received an envelope with white powder that he thought was anthrax and accidentally spilled it on his daughter, leading him to rush her to the hospital; and that he’d had a meeting at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., on the same day that journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered (the meeting happened at least a month prior). In seemingly every instance, Minhaj portrayed himself to be a victim of racism, heroic in the face of it, or both.
There were other falsehoods, too, such as him telling off Jared Kushner for taking a seat at a Time 100 Gala that had been reserved for an imprisoned Saudi activist (no such seat existed), threatening tweets directed at him displayed during his 2022 Netflix stand-up special The King’s Jester were doctored “for comedic effect,” and — most troubling of all —that “Three women had hired an attorney and threatened litigation against Netflix and ‘Patriot Act’s production company, alleging gender discrimination, sex-based harassment, and retaliation,” and that “the legal matter settled out of court.”
Minhaj, for his part, defended himself to The New Yorker by saying, “You have got to take the shots you are given in life, even if they’re built on a lie… The emotional truth is first. The factual truth is secondary.”
A big reason why these revelations about Minhaj are of such importance is because last month, Variety broke the news that he was being eyed as “a potential candidate” to replace Trevor Noah as host of The Daily Show. Minhaj was the last correspondent hired by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, and had served in that capacity from 2014-2018. Multiple sources close to The Daily Show have confirmed to Rolling Stone that Minhaj is currently “one of three top candidates” for the hosting job, though “no deal has been locked with any talent” — since, according to sources with knowledge of the negotiations, Comedy Central is waiting until after the writers’ strike is over to announce its new host.
In a statement to Rolling Stone, a Comedy Central spokesperson said, “We have no news to report about a new host of The Daily Show at this time.”
Michelle Wolf, another prominent ex-Daily Show contributor, recently confessed during a wide-ranging interview with Rolling Stone that she would be interested in hosting, saying, “I would love to host that show. I have a very good idea of how I would run the show, what I would do on the show, and how to keep the core of what The Daily Show is while also adding my own spin to it and breathing new life into it.”
Following The New Yorker story, Minhaj provided a statement to Rolling Stone and other media outlets where he elaborated on the fabrication claims: “Yes, I was rejected from going to prom because of my race. Yes, a letter with powder was sent to my apartment that almost harmed my daughter. Yes, I had an interaction with law enforcement during the war on terror. Yes, I had varicocele repair surgery so we could get pregnant. Yes, I roasted Jared Kushner to his face. I use the tools of standup comedy—hyperbole, changing names and locations, and compressing timelines to tell entertaining stories. That’s inherent to the art form. You wouldn’t go to a Haunted House and say ‘Why are these people lying to me?’ — The point is the ride. Standup is the same.”