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Late Night Tackles Fox News
May 23, 2019

The 2020 Democratic presidential candidates are split on whether to appear on Fox News, and on Tuesday night, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah explained the advantages they can reap from going on the generally unfriendly network. On Wednesday's Full Frontal, Daily Show alumna Samantha Bee offered a counterpoint.

Yes, Mayor Pete Buttigieg got "a touching reception for a candidate on a network that doesn't believe his sexual orientation entitles him to a wedding cake," Bee said, but really, this isn't that complicated. "You do not have to go on Fox News."

"Yes, there are some benefits to crossing the media aisle to try to reach new voters," Bee said. "And it's great to talk to as many voters as possible, but where you talk to them matters. As Elizabeth Warren put it as she refused to appear on the network, Fox News is a 'hate-for-profit racket' — which, in all fairness, would make it the first profitable racket Donald Trump has ever been involved in."

"In its entire history, Fox News was never on the level, but in the Trump era, the network has become an extension of his administration , or maybe vice versa — they don't pretend otherwise, so why should anyone else?" Bee asked. "At a certain point, if you play along with Fox, you don't look principled or bipartisan — you just look stupid. Nobody is impressed by how Charlie Brown reaches across the aisle to Lucy's football."

"If you're sure that going on Fox is strategically the right thing to do, I guess go for it," Bee said. "But I am sure that it is not morally the right thing to do. When you go on Fox News, no matter how lit your town hall game is that night, you are legitimizing them. ... And if you do go on, they're just going to take you out of context anyway." Watch Fox News twisting Buttigieg below. Peter Weber

May 21, 2019

"The biggest TV event of the weekend, of course, was all about the brutal struggle for power and warring houses — of course I'm talking about Pete Buttigieg on Fox News," Stephen Colbert joked on Monday's Late Show. "Mayor Pete sat down with Chris Wallace, and Wallace pressed him on how Buttigieg is going to respond to [President] Trump's attacks." The Late Show audience clapped, but Colbert himself was less impressed. "I'm so happy for you, Mayor Pete, that you don't have to care about Trump's tweets," he said, slow-clapping sideways. "Unlike you, some of us need to read them out loud every night just to feed our families."

Buttigieg was right about Trump's "grotesque" tweets, however, and he criticized Fox News hosts but not Fox News viewers, Colbert said. Still, one prominent Fox News viewer "rage-tweeted before the town hall even started." Colbert read Trump's tweets, presumably to feed his family. Trump appeared jealous at Wallace's praise of Buttigieg's "substance" and "biography," and Colbert responded in Trump voice: "Come on, Chris, anything Mayor Pete can do, I can do better. I can marry a guy. I'll marry two guys, then leave them both for a younger, hotter guy."

Colbert also hit on some good news: Billionaire Robert F. Smith's surprise offer to pay off the student debt of Morehouse College's graduating seniors. "Class of 2019, you just learned a valuable lesson: Sucks to be the Class of 2018," he said. "You know there's somebody in that crowd of graduates going, 'Aren't you happy it took me five years to graduate now, Dad?'" Less happy was Colbert: "As someone who frequently gets asked to give commencement speeches, I have just one thing to say to Robert F. Smith: What are you doing, man?" Watch below. Peter Weber

March 12, 2019

Fox News host Tucker Carlson's old comments are coming back to haunt him, thanks to a little digging by Media Matters for America. Carlson "has been saying just awful stuff for years," including from 2006 to 2011 on a radio show hosted by "Bubba the Love Sponge," Stephen Colbert said on Monday's Late Show. "By the way, love sponge, the least effective method of contraception. The most effective? Tucker Carlson."

Colbert played some of Carlson's commentary — on Supreme Court Elena Kagan's looks, women in general, and polygamous Mormon offshoot leader Warren Jeffs and his child rape facilitation. "On a positive note, I think R. Kelly just got a character witness," he joked. Also, "sure, women are primitive — in that right now, many of them want to throw Tucker Carlson into a volcano."

"Predictably, the president of the Warren Jeffs fan club has refused to apologize" for what he calls his "naughty" old comments, Colbert said, unimpressed. "Naughty? Tucker, when you defend child brides you don't go on the naughty list, you go on that list where you have to go door to door to tell people you just moved into their neighborhood." Watch below. Peter Weber

March 8, 2019

Stephen Colbert had a good laugh over President Trump calling Apple's Tim Cook "Tim Apple," and a less-hearty laugh at former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly joking that his successor should "run for it." And he had a few thoughts, on Thursday's Late Show, about the Democratic National Committee's decision Wednesday to bar Fox News from hosting 2020 Democratic presidential debates. "Oh no!" Colbert deadpanned. "But now how will Fox viewers know which Democrat they're going to vote for?"

"Now the folks over at Fox News, not happy," saying they hope the DNC will reconsider barring Chris Wallace, Brett Baier, and Martha MacCallum from moderating a Democratic debate, Colbert said. "You're a 24-hour news channel and you're bragging that you have three journalists. That's like a menu at a diner saying: 'Hundreds of choices, several edible!'" Trump also weighed in on Twitter, threatening to "do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!"

Colbert wasn't buying it. "Look, [Trump] won't boycott the debates, because there are cameras," he said. More to the point, the general election debates are organized by an independent commission and broadcast on all stations — "unless he's gonna pull off all the major networks, in which case, I'm looking forward to seeing Trump debate Bernie Sanders on Naked and Afraid." There was a mockup of how that debate might look.

The Late Show also found the one person to whom Trump wouldn't give a top-secret security clearance. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 20, 2018

As Christmas approaches, Fox News pundit Tucker Carlson is a gift that keeps on giving ... material to comedians. Stephen Colbert took a whack on Wednesday's Late Show. "Carlson's already got a reputation for flirting with racism, but last week he took it to a racy new level," he began. "Tucker got a lot of heat" for calling immigrants dirty and diseased, "but he's nothing if not a little racist who could, and he came chugging back up that hill on Monday with a new reason he doesn't like immigrants: He just cares so darn much about the environment."

Colbert rolled his eyes at Carlson's gripe about migrants and garbage, "but despite the critics, Tucker is staying focused," he noted. "Yesterday, while every news outlet was covering some trivial story about the president's former national security adviser getting a federal prison sentence, Tucker was hitting the hard news," the war on Christmas cookies — at least at one coffee shop in Scotland where they no longer sell gingerbread men. "If we accept 'gingerbread people,' what's next?" Colbert asked in mock horror. "Ladyfingers becoming peoplefingers?"

Carlson was apparently really incensed about this one Scottish shop's gender-neutral cookies, but he crossed a line by musing about all the bathrooms in these new gingerbread people's houses. "All bathrooms in houses are gender-neutral," Colbert said. "You do not have one for men and one for women — you have one for company and one for pooping." He cracked up at the "cookie-gender expert" Carlson brought in, like "any respectable newsman would do," and he offered to help Fox News viewers out with some "clearly delineated gender" categories for other foods, too. Carlson got one more shout-out. Watch below. Peter Weber

April 18, 2018

On Tuesday's Daily Show, Trevor Noah returned to Sean Hannity's newly uncovered relationship with President Trump's lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen, and he focused on Hannity's confusing and improbable explanation for why he isn't Cohen's law client, despite Cohen's assertion to the contrary.

Whatever legal advice he solicited from Cohen, "why didn't Hannity get it from his regular attorney, instead of turning to a guy who's specifically known for paying off mistresses?" Noah asked. Hannity insisted it's not what it looks like, but he fudged a bit. "Wow, he really slipped in the 'almost' there," he said. "He was, like, 'All my questions to Michael Cohen were exclusively almost real estate.' ... You can't say 'exclusively almost.' 'Exclusively almost' is the kind of phrase that makes people ask more questions. If someone tells you that they 'exclusively almost' have sex with adults, you're not hiring them to babysit your kids."

Hannity offered a slightly different explanation on his radio show, but what really got Noah is "how casually Hannity is trying to minimize his connection to Michael Cohen, like it means nothing — especially when every other day of the year, he's the guy who can bake a conspiracy cake out of nothing more than an egg and the word 'Hillary.'" He presented his own theory "to bust this whole Hannity-Michael Cohen story wide open," then illustrated Hannity's dilemma with a deleted scene "exclusively almost" from Star Wars.

Jordan Klepper had his own theory at The Opposition. Yes, Cohen is "the Atticus Finch of getting women to shut up about affairs — allegedly," he said, but if you listen to Hannity, it's clear "this isn't some tawdry woman-silencing hush deal. Hannity was just talking to Cohen about real estate. So everyone should just relax, because it's obvious what happened: Sean Hannity f---ed a house. He f---ed a house and had Michael Cohen pay it to keep quiet." He elaborated on that theory, and you can watch below. Peter Weber

October 27, 2017

"The Trump administration seems permanently inundated by scandal and constantly under siege," so "many on the right seem to want to live in an alternate reality where Trump actually isn't president," Seth Meyers said on Thursday's Late Night. Who is president, then? Well, on Fox News, it's Hillary Clinton, he said. "And in particular, they've tried to dredge up a series of debunked and overblown stories to muddy the waters and make it look like it was actually Hillary who colluded with Russia," constantly repeating that the "real Russia scandal" involves Clinton, not President Trump.

Meyers briefly discussed reports that the Clinton campaign helped finance the research on Trump and Russia commingling that a former British spy, Christopher Steele, compiled into a now-famous dossier. He then showed the "new entry to one of our favorite montages" — Sean Hannity trying to defend Trump by repeating the most salacious claim from the dossier. But if "Fox News would much rather talk about Hillary than Donald Trump," they're not alone, Meyers said. "The right, in the Trump era, doesn't have coherent principles or an ideology, it just has enemies. Which is why they prefer to inhabit an alternate reality where Hillary Clinton is president. And what little you do hear about Trump won't be negative."

Meyers looked at some of Fox News' sycophantic interviews with Trump — 18 since he was president — comparing Fox News hosts to "dance moms quietly doing the routine in the background so their kids won't mess up." He also feigned sympathy for Trump: "To be fair, you might also have an inflated ego if there was a whole TV channel dedicated to showering you with praise." You can watch that and more below. Peter Weber

October 25, 2017

The revelation that former Fox News star Bill O'Reilly paid $32 million to settle a sixth sexual harassment case likely means the end of his TV career, "and yesterday, Bill told us exactly who he blames for all of his bad decisions," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Could this be true? Is God really to blame for this whole scandal?" "God" appeared on the Late Show ceiling and asked Colbert to keep his name out of this.

One reason, the Late Show God said, is that he has his own spotty record with women. "There was that time I got somebody pregnant and totally bailed," he said. "Kid shows up on my doorstep 33 years later — turns out, nice guy!" But God eventually confessed his blame for the O'Reilly mess, to Colbert's surprise. "Yeah, I gave him that free will, and look what he did with it!" God said. "It's like letting a toddler drive a car, which I've also done." He kind of apologized, but ended with a wicked roast joke. Watch below. Peter Weber

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