Trevor Noah on Adnan Syed: ‘Podcasts need to become part of the justice system’

Trevor Noah

On Tuesday’s Daily Show, Trevor Noah reflected on the surprise release of Adnan Syed, the subject of the hit true crime podcast Serial, after 22 years in prison. Syed had been sentenced to life in prison for the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee; on Monday, a Baltimore judge ruled that the state violated its legal obligation to share exculpatory evidence with Syed’s defense and overturned his conviction.

“I know people are celebrating this, and I understand why, but I’m going to be honest with you, I find it weird that America confuses fixing a mistake with a happy ending,” said Noah on Tuesday evening. “You know what I mean? Like ‘good news, we got out of Afghanistan’ – well, why were you there in the first place? ‘Good news, we got emergency water to Jackson, Mississippi’ – why do you need emergency water?

“What does it say about America that it takes a podcast to help free a man from prison?” Noah added. “Because what I think it says is that either America needs to reform its justice system, or podcasts need to become part of the justice system.

Related: Colbert on DeSantis’s asylum seeker flights: ‘Way worse than we imagined’

“Think about it: everyone hates jury duty, but everyone loves podcasts,” he continued. “So maybe we get rid of juries and just have everyone in America listen to the podcast. And then they all vote, it just becomes a nationwide jury.”

It’s a foolproof idea, he mused, because “if you add entertainment, Americans are always interested.”

Noah then explained that it wasn’t Serial, or subsequent investigations into his case by the Undisclosed podcast or the 2019 documentary The Case Against Adnan Syed, that changed Syed’s fate. His case had come up for review to a prosecutor who used to be a public defender. That prosecutor dug deeper into the case file than she had to and found issues with the conviction, then asked the judge to vacate it. “The prosecutor didn’t have to do any of that,” Noah said. “She could’ve just said, ‘ah yeah, maybe it wasn’t a completely fair trial, but tough shit.’

“But she said: ‘no, if we’re going to put somebody in prison, it has to be without any doubt,’” he concluded. “And that shows you the difference between a justice system that wants justice versus a system that just wants to put people in prison.”

Stephen Colbert

On the Late Show, Stephen Colbert celebrated an investigation by a Texas sheriff into the role of the Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, in tricking asylum seekers to board planes from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard. The sheriff, Javier Salazar, called the political stunt an “abuse of human rights” but could not cite specific laws that may have been broken. “Yeah, but it’s just like pornography – you know it when you see it, and you don’t want it to involve Ron DeSantis,” Colbert joked.

The Late Show host then turned to Joe Biden’s declaration in a 60 Minutes interview this week that the pandemic was over, “which marks the first time that Joe Biden has ever moved too fast”, Colbert quipped. The White House has now walked back the comments, saying the president could have been more “nuanced” in stating that the pandemic is now in a different phase. “OK, saying something is over is kinda a misleading way to declare a new phase – ‘Carol, it’s over, I can’t date you any more … because I’m asking you to marry me!’” said Colbert.

And he checked in on a close Senate race in Georgia between the incumbent Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and the Republican candidate, Herschel Walker. Walker, a former football star, has “no political experience or qualifications, but on the bright side, he also lies a lot”, Colbert noted. To date, Walker has lied on the campaign trail about owning companies that don’t exist, claimed to be in law enforcement when he wasn’t and said he graduated from college, which he did not.

“Well, that’s understandable,” said Colbert. “It’s hard to keep up with your coursework when you’re a pretend cop running multiple fake companies.”

Jimmy Kimmel

And in Los Angeles, Jimmy Kimmel laughed at a reported feud between Donald Trump and “one of his celebrity impersonators”, Ron DeSantis, because Trump thinks the Florida governor stole the idea of stunt-shipping asylum seekers across the country from him. “Can you imagine being such a despicable creep, you’re mad at someone for being a despicable creep sooner than you?” Kimmel mused. “It’s like taking credit for being the first guy to put pineapple on pizza.”

Kimmel also touched on a video which appeared to show GOP election officials in Coffee county, Georgia, allowing men hired by Trump lawyer and election denier Sidney Powell to tour election headquarters. “I know we do this every day, but just stop for a moment and imagine that video had been a group of Joe Biden operatives breaching election security, going into areas they’re not supposed to be, and then physically opening and manipulating the voting equipment itself,” said Kimmel.

“Imagine what the reaction in Magaland [would be] – Mike Lindell would’ve humped a hole right through his MyPillow.”