Several crew members filming a comedy segment in an office building near the U.S. Capitol for “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert” were charged with unlawful entry earlier this week, leading prominent Republicans including Fox News host Tucker Carlson to falsely cry “insurrection.”
“Last night, producers from Stephen Colbert’s show on CBS committed insurrection at the United States Capitol,” Carlson falsely claimed on his show Friday night.
Carlson was referring to the arrest of seven production crew members for Colbert’s CBS show Thursday night, which was filming a segment at the Longworth House Office Building with Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a crass puppet voiced by comedian Robert Smigel. Capitol police said Friday that the arrests happened after the building had been closed to visitors and the crew had already been told to leave the building.
Colbert’s team had finished up prearranged interviews with lawmakers and were filming “final comedy elements” in the building’s hallways when the arrests took place, CBS news said in a statement. All seven crew members were slapped with unlawful entry charges.
The arrests quickly became fodder for Republicans looking to distract from this week’s hearings on the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack by falsely equating the arrests of the crew members to the violence of former President Donald Trump’s supporters.
“It’s exactly like what happened on Jan 6., so we’ll take a close look at what the punishments are,” Carlson told his viewers Friday night.
He’s wrong. In the case of Jan. 6, five people died and more than 140 officers were injured after hundreds of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory. In the case of Colbert’s crew, they were arrested filming a comedy segment featuring a puppet best known for hurting people’s feelings.
And there were hurt feelings. Congresswoman and QAnon supporter Marjorie Taylor Greene took a photo of comedian Smigel with his puppet and posted it to Twitter to whine about “targeted harassment.”
“Now all of you engaged in insurrection & enabled targeted harassment against me and my Republican colleagues,” Greene tweeted. “I’m telling the full story next week.”
Disinformation merchant and Pizzagate peddler Mike Cernovich echoed a similar talking point on Twitter.
“If they aren’t charged criminally the same as J6 defendants, then more evidence of selective prosecution arises,” Cernovich said in a tweet. “Judges can only rig stuff so much before the judiciary loses all legitimacy. Throw the book at these trespassers.”
And Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.) took the opportunity to compare Colbert’s production crew being in the Capitol to a tour Loudermilk gave to Jan. 6 participants one day before the violence ensued.
“So while they’re accusing me of giving illegal tours of the Capitol, they are giving illegal tours of the Capitol,” Loudermilk said, accusing Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) of allowing the production crew access.
The difference, of course, is that comedian Smigel was armed with a microphone, and one of the men Loudermilk gave a tour to was later seen marching on the Capitol, filming an accomplice who was armed with a spear while making targeted threats against lawmakers.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly said the crew members were arrested inside the U.S. Capitol. They were arrested in a building that is part of the U.S. Capitol complex.