Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien, Seth Meyers, and Amber Ruffin wrestle with George Floyd's killing, racism, Trump's abdication

Late night hosts grapple with George Floyd
(Image credit: Screenshots/YouTube/The Late Show, Late Night, Conan )

"Well, we're back after 10 days off," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show, and the story that "has pushed 100,000 COVID deaths below the fold is America's pre-existing condition, racism," specifically "the extrajudicial execution of a man named George Floyd, face-down in a street in Minneapolis." Protests have broken out in dozens of U.S. cities, plus London, Toronto, and Berlin, he said. "You know it's bad when Germany thinks your country's racist. That's like Jamaica telling you to put down the bong."

"In times like these, we need empathetic and moral leadership," Colbert said. "Unfortunately we have Donald Trump." In a pugilistic call with governors Monday, Trump acted "the big tough guy," but "on Friday, as protests raged nearby, Trump took shelter in the White House bunker."

"America is now officially BYOP — bring your own president," Colbert said. Just as with the coronavirus, Trump has abdicated all responsibility, so once more, Americans have to do the right thing on their own, and "not only is addressing systemic racial and economic injustice the right thing to do, it is the safest, most conservative, most self-protecting, most self-serving thing to do. Contents under pressure will eventually explode — and that's not a threat, that's a law of nature."

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Trump is sounding "like a cross between a brutal military dictator and a racist grandpa shuffling around the nursing home with his robe on backwards," Late Night's Seth Meyers said. But when he and Fox News host Tucker Carlson yell for "law and order," they mean "an 'order' that only serves them. They insist that communities of color politely and obediently request change from a system that systematically ignores, dehumanizes, and disenfranchises them."

"Our national crisis is that a large and vital community in our country is in real pain — pain because they do not feel safe, or dignified, or seen, and most importantly of all, they do not feel heard," Conan O'Brien said. "It is taking too goddamned long" to heal America's grievous wound of racism, he said, and if we "can really listen, maybe we can find out why."

Late Night's Amber Ruffin talked about her encounters with police and how common they are among black Americans.

"Each story seems unrelated," but they are dominoes that fall together, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah said over the weekend, linking George Floyd, Amy Cooper, the coronavirus pandemic, and the looting. He explained why some black looters might break the one-sided social contract, and said it isn't "extreme" to say "police in American are looting black bodies." Listen below. Peter Weber

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Peter Weber

Peter Weber is a senior editor at, and has handled the editorial night shift since the website launched in 2008. A graduate of Northwestern University, Peter has worked at Facts on File and The New York Times Magazine. He speaks Spanish and Italian and plays bass and rhythm cello in an Austin rock band. Follow him on Twitter.