Colbert v. Trump

CBS late night talk show host Stephen Colbert has been on a roll lately, outdrawing NBC’s Tonight Show in the household ratings since January.  Colbert’s rating’s growth has been largely fueled by his scathing anti-Trump monologues that drip with derision and contempt. But Colbert may have gone one insult too far Monday night.

In an appearance on CBS This Morning, President Trump abruptly ended an interview by CBS News Political Director John Dickerson when he was pressed to explain his charge that President Barack Obama wired tapped him. Earlier in the interview the president called Dickerson’s Sunday program “Disgrace the Nation” instead of Face the Nation, and indicated Dickerson may be peddling fake news. This was an unprecedented series of presidential insults never seen on network television before.  

Later that day Colbert jumped to the defense of his CBS News colleague, saying, “John Dickerson has way too much dignity to trade insults with the president of the United States to his face. But I, sir, am no John Dickerson.” More than 10 minutes of Trump insults spewed forth from Colbert, which included a roll of toilet paper and a banana. Colbert’s relentless verbal tongue lashing was similar to a boxer pounding a staggering opponent.  Colbert’s denouement came with a burst of energy. “I love your presidency. I call it Disgrace the Nation. You’re not the POTUS. You’re the bloatus. You’re the glutton with the button. You’re a regular Gorge Washington. You’re the presi-dunce, but you’re turning into a real prick-tator. Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine. You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign language gorilla who got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c*** holster.” The closing Putin reference has set off a firestorm of criticism, especially from the right, calling Colbert’s remarks obscene and homophobic. Some have ludicrously tried to compare Colbert to former Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly, who left the network following a sexual harassment scandal.  Thousands have used the Twitter hashtag #FireColbert. 

But where were these concerned citizens when Trump said Fox host Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever,” or when he insulted Mexicans as rapists, or he humiliated a physically disabled reporter, or he was recorded referring to how celebrities can handle women, “Grab them by the p***y. You can do anything?”  Of course, they voted for Trump. Hypocrisy always rears its ugly head in politics. Sadly, the simple fact is that, when it comes to public comments and tweets, President Donald Trump has set the bar for decency to a pathetic new low. Trump has now inspired comedians to descend to his level in order to get a few extra laughs, and for many viewers Colbert’s Putin comment clearly was in poor taste. Regretfully, this is not a laughing matter because it only further divides the country. It is time for President Donald Trump to finally stop with the endless personal insults and name calling. Conversely, comedians can dial their monologues a few notches and still be very funny. And what should Colbert do in the face of all this criticism? On his Wednesday night program he said he had no regrets, except he “would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be.” Perhaps he might have used Trump’s own words following the release of that embarrassing tape recording about celebrities?  “This was locker room banter... I apologize if anyone was offended.”