UPDATED WITH VIDEO: “Folks — I’m still here. The dark forces trying to silence my message of core conservative principles mixed with youth-friendly product placement have been thwarted!” Stephen Colbert raved Monday night, in re the motherlode The Colbert Report hit when a Twitter campaign to cancel the show erupted last week after the network tweeted a line out of context from one of his comedy bits. He devoted his entire telecast to his rebuttal, at the end of which he and Twitter co-founder Biz Stone blew up @ColbertReport — the network’s official Twitter account for the program, from which had come the offending tweet. (The page no longer exists on Twitter.) “The Interweb tried to swallow me whole. But I am proud to say that I got lodged in its throat and it hacked me back up, like a hastily chewed chicken wing,” Colbert told fans who’d tuned in, we’re guessing in large numbers, to see how he would respond to the kerfuffle. (See the video below.)
Tonight’s episode opened with crew members carrying boxes out of the studio, The Colbert Report set shutting down its lights, a pink rose wilting and dying, Iron Eyes Cody shedding a tear in that ’70s Keep America Beautiful anti-litter PSA. Cut to Colbert, dressed in Washington Redskins sweats and cap, waking on a couch next to BD Wong. Wong told him he’d had a nightmare. Colbert wondered why he’s still dreaming he’s on a couch next to BD Wong. “You fell asleep watching Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” Wong explained. “Wednesdays at 9, 8 Central, on NBC,” Colbert responded.
On Thursday night, The Colbert Report‘s official Twitter account delivered the punch line to one of Colbert’s bits without the setup. This is what’s known in the industry as a big comedy mistake. Social media went all Lord of the Flies when @ColbertReport tweeted out the single line from from Wednesday night’s show mocking Dan Snyder for his latest reaction to calls for change of the racist name of his Washington NFL team. Seeking to placate, Snyder recently announced he’s started a foundation to help Native Americans but, proving his critics’ point, he named it The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (“which Twitter seems to be fine with, because I haven’t seen shit about that!” Colbert chided, on-air, tonight.)
“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” is the line @ColbertReport tweeted — then deleted when outrage ensued at #CancelColbert. With hashtag activist Suey Park leading the charge, it quickly became a top trending topic on Twitter. The tweeted line from Wednesday’s segment was, in turn, a reference to a 2005 routine on the program in which TV Colbert – the conservative blowhard that the always-in-character Actual Colbert plays on his show – was caught performing a racist Chinese impersonation.
Over the weekend, Park, who’d taken a boatload of online harassment for her campaign, turned her Twitter persona into a guy, Stewy Park, self-described “dudebro feminist,” lover of protein shakes and weightlifting. On tonight’s show, Colbert instructed any fans participating in those vicious attacks against her “for me — I want you to stop right now. She’s just speaking her mind and that’s what Twitter’s for.”
“Who’d have thought a form of communications limited to 140 characters could lead to misunderstanding,” Colbert said, reiterating he has never used @ColbertReport to tweet. He placed blame at the feet of Comedy Central: “When the twit hit the fan, the brain trust over at my network took the tweet down,” he explained, joking that’s how Twitter works — you take things down “and no one will ever know.” When he saw the tweet, out of context, “I understood how people were offended — the same way I, as an Irish American, was offended after reading only one line of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. ‘Eat Irish babies’?! #CancelSwift — trend it!” Colbert snarked, of Swift’s famous 18th century straight-faced satire of that era’s discriminatory attitude toward the Irish, the full name of which is A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and for Making Them Beneficial to the Publick.
“I don’t even see race – not even my own. People tell me I’m white. I believe them, because I just spent six minutes telling people I’m not a racist…and that is about the whitest thing you can do,” Colbert said, in response to some of Park’s points.
He marveled at the attention the media gave to the story — CNN even taking a break from the Malaysian Airlines missing plane to report spotting the wreckage of that they thought was his show off the coast of Australia. Most hurtful was the way in which fellow conservatives abandoned him, particularly Michelle Malkin, who co-signed the #CancelColbert call to yank his show and “called me a coward” – because, Colbert said, he’d learned so much about sensitivity to the Asian American experience from her book In Defense of Internment. “Turns out, they had it coming,” he quipped.
To recap: A Web editor Colbert said he never met posted the line from his show out of context, in his name, and the news media got 72 hours of coverage out of it. “The system worked,” Colbert declared with satisfaction. Today being the show’s first telecast in which he could respond to the outrage, “In a sense I was canceled for three days – just like Jesus,” Colbert observed.
After announcing he was shutting down his cringe-inducingly named faux foundation and firing its one staffer, but before blowing up Comedy Central’s real @ColbertNation so as to give Park’s followers something to crow about, Colbert brought out tonight’s guest.
“Here to apologize – the co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone.”
“I am not here to apologize,” Stone insisted.
“I accept,” Colbert responded.
“Will we get a chance to talk about my new book?” Stone wanted to know.
“Yeah. When you founded Twitter, did you do it to attack me?”
(Watch clips of tonight’s The Colbert Report here:)