Updated Jun 21, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Colbert defends staff members arrested in Washington

A screenshot of "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert on his show on Monday night.
A screenshot of "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert on his show on Monday night. Photo: CBS

Stephen Colbert addressed on the CBS "Late Show" Monday night the detention of program staff members in a Capitol Hill office building last week.

Driving the news: "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" host said it's "shameful and grotesque" that some likened the arrests by Capitol Police of the production team that included Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, a puppet voiced by Robert Smigel, to the deadly Capitol insurrection.

Between the lines: Though Colbert didn't name anyone, Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson made the comparison on his show.

  • Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) also described the comedy team's conduct as "insurrection" and "targeted harassment."

What to watch: Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) sent a letter to the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police on Monday requesting further information on how the seven people arrested gained access to the Longworth House Office Building, which resulted in them being charged with unlawful entry.

What he's saying: Colbert said on his show that the team "shot for two days in congressional offices across the street from the Capitol building."

  • "They went through security clearance, shot all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, invited into the offices of the congresspeople they were interviewing," he said.

Of note: Colbert described the detention, processing and release of the group as "very professional" and "calm," though a "very unpleasant experience for my staff, a lot of paperwork for the Capitol Police."

  • "Until the next night," Colbert said. "When a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had 'committed insurrection' at the U.S. Capitol building.
  • "First of all, what? Second of all, huh? Third of all, they weren't in the Capitol building,” Colbert continued.
  • "Fourth of all — and I’m 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. This was high jinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old ‘Conan’ bit. It’s really Conan’s fault."
— Excerpt from Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" monologue
  • Representatives for Greene and Fox News did not immediately respond to Axios' requests for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to note that the Colbert staff members were arrested in a Capitol Hill office building, not the Capitol.

Go deeper