Speed Reads

Late Night Tackles Fox News

Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah bid a not-quite-fond farewell to Bill O'Reilly's Fox News career

During Bill O'Reilly's heyday — which, in some respects, lasted until he went on "vacation" and then was fired Wednesday — Jon Stewart's Daily Show and Stephen Colbert's Colbert Report poked at the Fox News star on a regular basis. Now Colbert hosts The Late Show, and Trevor Noah helms The Daily Show, but both O'Reilly-punching institutions got in their final licks on Wednesday night.

"Now, Bill and I did not see eye-to-eye on anything," Colbert said. "But he's been a guest on this show, and I take no pleasure in his downfall, okay? I'm not going to sit here and publicly gloat — Jimmy, can you take the camera off me for just a second?" After the camera came back, Colbert said the news isn't so surprising. "We all saw this coming at us," he said, "like an old man cornering an intern in the break room."

But then he reconsidered. "O'Reilly's suddenly off the air," Colbert said. "This is huge. It's like looking at your front yard and the big oak tree is just gone. And sure, the oak tree said some disturbing things about young black men — what with their rap music and their neck tattoos — but damnit, the tree had been there forever, and your grandpa liked to just sit there and stare at it." Fox News issued a brief statement "celebrating O'Reilly's career, saying, 'By ratings standards, Bill O'Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news,'" Colbert noted. "By ratings standards, he is. By moral standards, he was a self-righteous landfill of angry garbage."

Noah focused on O'Reilly's greatest hits (or misses, depending). "Here at The Daily Show, we want to give O'Reilly the sendoff that he deserves," he said. "Because, let's be honest, he's not going to get it on Fox," where everybody will probably pretend nothing is amiss. O'Reilly really was "the biggest figure in the history of cable news," Noah said. "At one point, no one even came close — because they were afraid he might sexually harass him."

Noah recapped O'Reilly's career, from an early on-set breakdown at Inside Edition to years of complaints about cultural oppression of white men and Christians. "Here's what I don't understand: If white people don't have it good in the U.S., then which race does?" he asked. He focused for a bit on O'Reilly's beef with black people, then noted that in the end, "O'Reilly wasn't just a famous newsman. You know all that anger and victimhood you hear from Trump voters? A lot of that started with him." So The Daily Show bid a half-serious, occasionally NSFW farewell to its "extremely old friend," and let O'Reilly play his career out, with a lot of jazz. Watch below. Peter Weber