Late Night Tackles Sexual Misconduct
July 31, 2018

Stephen Colbert began Monday's Late Show by noting he was offline in South Carolina last weekend, "but I heard that there was an article about CBS chairman and man I hope isn't watching tonight's monologue Les Moonves." He made a show of learning the article was by Ronan Farrow, prompting him to spit out his coffee and pick up a glass of whisky. "Ronan isn't exactly known for his puff pieces about glamping," he explained. "Okay, well, I guess we're talking about this." CBS's board decided Monday afternoon to hire an outside firm to investigate allegations that Colbert's boss sexually harassed six women. "I don't know why they're outsourcing this," he joked, darkly. "They could just use the cast of the new CBS procedural, CSI: CEO."

Colbert promised to return to the topic later, "assuming we make it past the commercial break," then shifted gears to "allegations against somebody I don't work for," Kimberly Guilfoyle at Fox News. "So that's where we're at," he said. "The best news of the day is that women can also be guilty of sexual harassment." The details of that story are really ... something.

Colbert turned to the allegations from President Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen that Trump knew about and green-lighted a Trump Tower meeting where Russian officials offered his campaign chiefs and son dirt about Hillary Clinton. Of course Trump knew, Colbert said, but "this is still a big deal — this is the whole ball of wax. Because that is knowingly receiving help from a hostile foreign power to influence our election." To clean that up, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani went on TV Monday, and that's when things got really nuts — among other things, Guilani revealed there was a third, previously secret meeting. "He's just giving away damaging information," Colbert gawked. "He's gonna be the first lawyer in history to have to treat himself as a hostile witness." Watch below. Peter Weber

February 1, 2018

Congress is generally terrible, Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal, but "last month, a bipartisan congressional coven" of female lawmakers "teamed up with some of the few men in Congress who don't panic when they hear the phrase 'there's been an accusation'" to introduce legislation to end forced arbitration for sexual harassment. "Forced arbitration is a legal strategy that allows corporations to bypass the court system," Bee explained. "When companies do bad stuff, they can force accusers to use a private arbitrator hired by that same company, with little chance to appeal when the arbitrator rules in favor of the company, which it usually does."

You've probably signed away your rights numerous times without even knowing it, Bee said. "Forced arbitration literally takes away your legal rights," and it "often mandates nondisclosure agreements. Not only does that keep stories from getting out to the public, it can also prevent employees from sharing information about mutually feared creepos — and that enabled monsters like Roger Ailes to continue subjecting women to his genitals."

Gretchen Carlson broke that silence on Ailes, and she's lobbying Congress to end forced arbitration, Bee said. "You guys may not think of Gretchen Carlson as an ally, but on this issue, we agree. So she graciously sat down with me, even though we made fun of her for 12 straight years at my previous gig." Carlson argued that America thought it had solved its sexual harassment problem after Anita Hill, but what really happened is that women's sexual misconduct stories ended up in one of two "secret chambers," forced arbitration or secret settlements. Since Carlson can't talk about what happened with Ailes, Bee acted out what her reaction would have been, getting a laugh from Carlson. The interview ended with a hopeful note and a Don Trump Jr. joke, and you can watch below. (Some of it is borderline NSFW.) Peter Weber

January 18, 2018

"Yes, the inevitable backlash to the #MeToo movement has arrived — or as I like to call it, the #YouTooLoud movement," Samantha Bee said on Wednesday's Full Frontal. Her examples were heavy on the Fox News but broader than that, and she focused on the reaction to the "Sh--ty Media Men" list for a bit. "Here's the number of people who were putting rape and sexual harassment and bad dates into one bucket," she said. "Literally nobody is saying they're the same. What many fail to understand is that it doesn't have to be rape to ruin your life, and it doesn't have to ruin your life to be worth speaking out about. Any type of sexual harassment or coercion is unacceptable."

"What men literally cannot understand is this isn't about them," Bee said. "Unfortunately, though, not all the backlash is from willfully blind men; some of it is from women who have seen way too much, especially in the wake of an article about Aziz Ansari and the horrible night an anonymous woman said she had with him. The conversation about this article has been tentative and difficult, largely because a lot of women disagree about it," including Ashleigh Banfield. "It's not just Ashleigh," she added. "A lot of people are worried about Aziz's career — which no one is trying to end, because again, we know the difference between a rapist, a workplace harasser, and an Aziz Ansari. That doesn't mean we have to be happy about any of them."

The last part is pretty NSFW, with Bee explaining her views on a higher standard for sex and advising men to find other outlets if they can't be bothered to respect their partners — especially men who call themselves feminist and sport "Time's Up" insignia. "And if you don't want to do that," she said, "take off your f---ing pin, because we are not your accessories." Watch below. Peter Weber

December 13, 2017

Tuesday was the first night of Hanukkah, Stephen Colbert noted on The Late Show, but it was also "a huge day in Alabama, Election Day, and now it is official: Roy Moore either is or is not our newest U.S. senator." (He's not.) Colbert said the show taped long before the polls closed, but "one thing we do know is how Roy Moore got to the polls: He arrived on horseback." Apparently riding to the polls on a horse is a Moore family tradition. "Roy Moore loves traditions from the 1800s, like child brides and the Dred Scott decision," the Supreme Court's infamous pro-slavery ruling, he joked. When his audience murmured, Colbert shrugged. "Hey, maybe he lost, we don't know."

Colbert also took a look at Moore's closing arguments from Monday night — well, specifically the tale a friend and supporter told about their visit to an underage brothel in Vietnam, and the assurances Moore's wife, Kayla, gave to show they aren't anti-Semitic. "Wow," Colbert said, trying to top her "our lawyer is a Jew" and "we fellowship with them" defenses. "We're not homophobic because my hairdresser is a gay," he said. "I mean, Jewish girls know Roy will show up at your bat mitzvah."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said she believed the women accusing President Trump of sexual misconduct and called on Trump to resign. "Of course, Trump couldn't let that go," Colbert said, reading his tweet about Gillibrand "begging" him for campaign contributions, which she "would do anything for." The audience gasped.

"That reminds me: Melania, how's that anti-cyberbullying going?" Colbert asked. He ended on a friendlier note, the bipartisan dog-costume holiday party at the Capitol. "Isn't that adorable? It's the one place on Capitol Hill you can engage in heavy petting and not have to resign," he said. He ended on a Moore joke. Watch below. Peter Weber

December 7, 2017

Time's Person of the Year is "the #MeToo movement," Stephen Colbert noted on Wednesday's Late Show, "which means that everyone who still subscribes to magazines just learned what a hashtag is." He applauded Time's "great choice," but said "a movement where sexual assault survivors are actually believed shouldn't be on the cover of Time; it should be on the cover of It's About Damn Time." As it is every year, the winner was announced on the Today show, Colbert said. "Really a shame Matt Lauer couldn't be there."

President Trump, last year's Person of the Year, came in at No. 2, and he's "gotta be annoyed," Colbert said, reading Trump's tweet on the topic. Still, "it really had to be the #MeToo movement, because it seems like every day a new man is being accused of sexual misconduct. But not today — today, it's the same man, Minnesota senator and former Minnesota Sen. Al Franken."

The straw that broke Franken's political back was a new accusation that he tried to kiss a former congressional aide in 2006, and when she ducked the kiss, he allegedly said, "It's my right as an entertainer." Nope, said Colbert. "I'm an entertainer, and I happen to always carry a copy of the Bill of Rights for Entertainers." Some of the perks he read sounded pretty good, but unwanted kissing was not among the enumerated rights. Franken will announce his future plans on Thursday, but the number of his Democratic colleagues calling on him to resign makes it seem inevitable. "The idea is so popular among Democrats," Colbert said, "that Al Franken is quoted as saying, 'I strongly believe Al Franken should resign... Oh wait! No, that's me!'" Peter Weber

November 30, 2017

Stephen Colbert returned to the air Wednesday after a weeklong break, and he'd noticed the changing media landscape. "I am one of the few men still allowed on television," he joked on The Late Show, pointing to NBC's firing of morning anchor Matt Lauer. "According to the chairman of NBC News, Lauer was fired due to 'inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace,'" he said, "not to be confused with appropriate sexual behavior in the workplace, because that does not exist." Colbert went through some of the salacious details of Lauer's alleged misconduct, including a tidbit from a colleague involving a sex toy and a note. "It's bad enough he gave her a sex toy, but he also gave her instructions?" he asked. "He found a way to mansplain sexual harassment."

President Trump, of course, weighed in on Twitter, saying the heads of NBC should be fired, too, "for putting out so much Fake News." Colbert couldn't take it. "Listen up, you don't get to comment," he said. "That is the pot calling the kettle at 3 a.m. and asking what she's wearing. Plus, remember the whole Billy Bush/bus thing?"

In fact, Trump is casting doubt now that it really is him bragging about grabbing women's genitalia on the Access Hollywood bus, so Colbert played the tape. "You know, when you listen to it again, it can't be him, because anybody who said that wouldn't get elected president of the United States," he said. The fact that Trump admitted he said it and apologized only made Colbert more suspicious.

Colbert also hit some happier news, the engagement of Britain's Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markel. But he found a Trump angle there, too: "England, a word of warning. We had a cool, biracial leader for a while, too. And I can tell you, you need to savor it. Because the next princess is gonna suck." Watch below. Peter Weber

November 30, 2017

Jimmy Fallon kicked off Wednesday's Tonight Show with a pointed jab at the elephant in the room, the firing that morning of his own network's morning news star, Matt Lauer, over sexual misconduct. Well, technically Fallon began with a setup about how NBC had just rung in the holiday season by lighting the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Plaza. "Also getting lit tonight? The HR rep over at NBC," he deadpanned. "If you're wondering where in the world is Matt Lauer, he's probably at a bar with Charlie Rose." Rose, of course, was the top male at Lauer's CBS rival morning show before he was fired over sexual misconduct.

Fallon has a reputation for pulling punches, but the other late-night Jimmy, Jimmy Kimmel, was a little more expansive with the Lauer jokes. "This morning my wife looked at her phone and said, 'Oh my god, Matt Lauer' — which, of course, I assumed he was dead. I guess this is better, I don't know," he said. "What happens now? I mean, does he have to do an emotional interview with himself?" He also wondered if maybe fellow Today anchor Kathie Lee Gifford should stop slapping Hoda Kobt's butt on "spanky Tuesdays" — which, he proved, is a real thing.

"Of course, President Trump weighed in on this, as presidents do," Kimmel said dryly. "And I'll tell you, if anyone knows about inappropriate behavior in the workplace at NBC, it's Donald J. Trump. I mean, is he aware that he's him?" Of course, Lauer wasn't Wednesday's only big media termination. Kimmel's joke about Garrison Keillor fondling an NPR tote bag fell flat, but he persisted: "Can you imagine being fired from Minnesota Public Radio? It's like having your library card revoked." Peter Weber

November 17, 2017

"Every day it seems like we find out about another high-profile sexual harasser," Stephen Colbert sighed on Thursday's Late Show, running through the day's allegations against Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.). "Come on, Franken! I guess there are no good people left, so let's just get it over with: Just tell us whatever you did, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama, Tom Hanks, Malala. As a fellow comedian, I've long admired Al Franken, but I've got to say, this doesn't bode well for Louis C.K.'s Senate hopes."

During a 2006 USO tour, Leeann Tweeden says, Franken wrote a kiss with her into a skit, insisted they rehearse it, then forcibly kissed her. "Now for those of you not in showbiz, actors call that technique sexual harassment," Colbert said. He was similarly unimpressed with the posed photo of Franken reaching to grab Tweeden's breasts while she's asleep, and Franken's initial response: "'Intended to be funny but wasn't'? No, your movie Stuart Saves His Family was intended to be funny but wasn't."

On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah was similarly disappointed. "Al Franken, #YouToo?" He pointed to Franken's second, much more contrite statement, but said "this story is another example of how at all levels, at all levels, we men have been complicit in perpetuating the culture that devalues women. ... Because you forget, it's not just Al Franken in the picture, it's the guy who's taking the picture, his Billy Bush."

He turned to Roy Moore, "the man most wanted by mall cops," and compared Franken's apology to the Alabama GOP Senate nominee's strategy of attacking the women and Mitch McConnell. "Al Franken's going with the whole 'I'm sorry, I'm going to look at myself, I understand it's disgusting' — that's so boring," Noah said. "This guy is like, 'You know who needs to step down for what I did? Someone else!'" Hey, he added, it worked for President Trump. Peter Weber

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