Colbert’s Sorry Non-Apology

Liberal talk-show host who attacked the president isn't taking his insults back, but he'd change a few words

It’s a big deal when people who follow the major late-night talk shows call for the termination of a major late-night host — especially one by the name of Stephen Colbert.

#FireColbert became a trending topic on Twitter after Colbert made a vulgar joke Monday night at the president’s expense — a “joke” that many felt was equal parts homophobic and out of line.

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During his Wednesday night monologue, Colbert addressed the controversy. Those remarks were “brief and slightly arch,” as The New York Times put it, “and the audience didn’t seem entirely sure how to react.”

Colbert said he did not regret insulting President Trump. But if given the chance to do it over, he said he “would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.”

Interestingly (but not surprisingly), some news media that regularly cover hot entertainment topics barely touched the story early on — or they minimized his remarks, praised him for them, or gave him the benefit of the doubt in one way or another.

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For most of Wednesday, for example, The Hollywood Reporter’s website had little or nothing about the story on its home page. Late Wednesday night, a “latest news” piece on the #FireColbert movement appeared, which even then was overshadowed by two far better placed and more positive Colbert pieces. One was titled “‘Late Show With Stephen Colbert’ Sets ‘Daily Show’ Reunion.”

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A “featured videos” section was also headlined by a video starring … you guessed it. The video, “Stephen Colbert: One Day in Times Square” was accompanied by a goofy, carefree image of the comedian as he ate pizza. On the mobile front, users had to scroll through stories like “Kim Kardashian West Teams with Lifetime for Beauty Competition Reality Series” before any coverage of #FireColbert could be found.

“I have jokes; he [Trump] has the launch codes. So it’s a fair fight,” said Colbert.

Over at “The Daily Beast,” a glowing headline on Wednesday seemed to go out of its way to pump up Colbert: “Stephen Colbert Demolishes Trump for Insulting ‘Face the Nation’ Host John Dickerson.”

The Huffington Post carried a story with this headline: “Stephen Colbert Unloads on ‘BLOTUS’ Trump in Epic Smackdown.”

And Mother Jones had this: “Stephen Colbert Tears into Trump Over John Dickerson Interview.”

Those appeared before Colbert’s remarks Wednesday night.

After its initial minimal coverage, THR dedicated a story Wednesday night with top placement to the Colbert controversy. By this time, of course, Colbert had had a chance to defend himself. “Stephen Colbert Defends Trump Jokes That Sparked #FireColbert Backlash,” read the headline.

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That was a reference to a transcript the site had obtained from Colbert’s Wednesday night show, before it aired. “Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine,” said Colbert in the transcript, referring to reporter John Dickerson. “So at the end of that monologue I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So it’s a fair fight.”

The original horrible “joke” directed at Trump was, “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster.”

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