After seven of his staffers were arrested at the U.S. Capitol last week, Stephen Colbert shared the story behind their detainment and slammed the media reaction to the news as “puppetry.” Colbert, who addressed the arrests in his Monday night (June 20) Late Show monologue, began his comments by giving context to his audience, explaining that his production team, including Robert Smigel, were detained after visiting the Capitol to conduct interviews about the Jan. 6 hearings.
Colbert said he had been approached by his “old colleague,” Triumph the Insult Comic Dog — who is voiced by Smigel, a former Saturday Night Live writer — who pitched the idea of going down to D.C. to conduct interviews for The Late Show. Colbert said Smigel and his production team filmed for two days without incident after going through security clearance and being “invited into the offices of the congresspeople.”
“After [the crew] finished their interviews, they were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by the Capitol police,” Colbert said, “which actually isn’t that surprising.
“The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago and for a very good reason. If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch,” he continued. “The Capitol police were just doing their job, my staff was just doing their job. Everyone was very professional, everyone was very calm. My staffers were detained, processed and released. A very unpleasant experience for my staff.”
While Colbert brushed off the incident as a “simple story,” he said not everyone else saw it that was, especially “a couple TV people” who claimed his staff had “committed insurrection.”
A perplexed Colbert denied anything of the sort, saying, “First of all, what? Second of all, huh? Third of all, they weren’t in the Capitol building! Fourth of all — and I am shocked I have to explain the difference — but an insurrection involves disrupting the lawful actions of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. This was first-degree puppetry.”
He added, “Drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died.”
A CBS spokesperson addressed the Late Show crew’s arrests in a statement shared with The Hollywood Reporter. The spokesperson said the interviews carried out by the crew “were authorized and pre-arranged through Congressional aides of the members interviewed,” adding, “After leaving the members’ offices on their last interview of the day, the production team stayed to film stand-ups and other final comedy elements in the halls when they were detained by Capitol Police.”
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert airs weeknights at 11:35/10:35c on CBS. Watch Colbert’s full monologue in the video above.
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