Late-Night Lately: The Hosts Get Serious After Charlottesville

8:00 AM 8/19/2017

by THR Staff

This week, THR's Late-Night Lately takes a look at how the hosts handled the news from Charlottesville and Trump's stunning response.

From left to right: Courtesy of HBO, CBS and NBC

The Hollywood Reporter's Late-Night Lately is a one-stop shop for all of the most memorable moments of late-night TV, coming to you each Saturday morning to ease you into your weekend.

Taking a break from the typical lineup of sketches, guest appearances and musical moments in late night, Late-Night Lately is taking a look this week at how the hosts handled the tragic news, and aftermath, of the events in Charlottesville, Va. 

— Compiled by Jennifer Konerman

  • Sunday

    Courtesy of HBO

    On Sunday, Last Week Tonight's John Oliver joined the outraged response to President Donald Trump after he failed to call out the white supremacists and Nazis who wreaked havoc in Charlottesville, Va. during a "Unite the Right" rally. 

    Oliver brought up the white nationalist rally, where afterward one person was killed and 19 injured when a car ran over counter-protestors on Saturday. He said that while true leadership was needed in the wake of this attack, the U.S. unfortunately has Trump as president instead. 

    "This was a white-nationalist rally — you have to call that out by name," said an incredulous Oliver. "There aren't many instances in modern American politics where you can honestly think, 'That guy really should have mentioned the Nazis,' but this is emphatically one of them.'"

    He called Trump's "false equivalence" between Nazis and people who oppose Nazis wild. "Nazis are a lot like cats," added Oliver. "If they like you, it's probably because you're feeding them."

    Trump was asked repeatedly after his statement if he disavows the white supremacists who support him and he didn't answer the questions. Oliver said that a non-answer in a situation like this is an answer in and of itself.

    “It simply doesn’t get easier than disavowing Nazis," said Oliver. "We will have to look to one another because, incredibly, in a country where previous presidents have actually had to defeat Nazis, we now have one who cannot even be bothered to even condemn them."

  • Monday

    Courtesy of Late Night with Seth Meyers

    On Monday's late-night shows, the hosts expressed their disgust and disappointment with Trump for taking two days to condemn Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists after the deadly events in Charlottesville. 

    Late Night's Seth Meyers solemnly spoke about the "terror attack" in which a white supremacist drove into a crowd of counterprotestors. He played Trump's much-criticized "on many sides" statement from Saturday, saying, "if that choice of words made you feel sick to your stomach the good news is you're a normal and decent person."

    "The leader of our country is called the president because he's supposed to preside over our society," said Meyers. "His job is to lead, to cajole, to scold, to correct our path, to lift up what is good about us, and to absolutely and unequivocally and immediately condemn what is evil in us. And if he does not do that and if he does not preside over our society, then he's not a president. You can stand for a nation or you can stand for a hateful movement — you can't do both."

    Earlier on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon, who does not usually address politics in such a serious manner on his show, gave a heartfelt monologue about the Charlottesville events, calling them "disgusting" and saying he was sick to his stomach as he watched everything unfold over the weekend.

    "My daughters are in the next room playing, and I'm thinking, 'How could I explain to them that there's so much hatred in this world?'" said Fallon. "They need leaders who appeal to the best in us," he continued. "The fact that it took the president two days to come out and clearly denounce racists and white supremacists is shameful."

    On CBS' The Late Show, Stephen Colbert criticized Trump as well. "Here's one thing that's not difficult to express: Nazis are bad," said Colbert, adding that he's seen "angrier Yelp reviews" than how Trump responded Saturday and said it was especially disturbing because his comments immediately following the tragedy made it hard for "reasonable people" to discern if he was condemning Nazis or not.

    "If only the president was as mad about neo-Nazis murdering people on the street as he's been about Hillary Clinton, The New York Times, CNN, Joe Scarborough, Kristen Stewart, the cast of Hamilton, Diet Coke, Nordstrom not selling his daughter's clothes …" Colbert said. 

    "We went into the weekend worrying about Kim Jong-un starting a war, we came out of it wondering if our president is cutting eye holes out of his bedsheets," said ABC's Jimmy Kimmel as he took on Trump's lack of reaction to the white supremacists.

    "There were two sides, not many sides, and one of those sides had Nazis on it," said Kimmel. "All he had to do was condemn the Nazis, it shouldn't have been a difficult thing." Like some of the other hosts, Kimmel highlighted that it's not like Trump doesn't like to speak out when he's upset. He played a clip of Trump angrily railing against an all-women Ghostbusters cast.

    The Late Late Show's James Corden also took issue with how long it took Trump to condemn white supremacists.

    "It's a tricky topic to make jokes about because so often when Donald Trump does something outrageous it distracts us from what's going on," said Corden, adding that he was so "wound up" about "Trump's terrifying silence" over the weekend he sometimes forgot how "worrying and disgusting the people who marched are."

    Corden said he hopes children who saw family members at the marches and now see them being shamed and reviled will realize that "there is a better future possible," and that needs to start with this country's leader setting that example.

  • Tuesday

    Screengrab/The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    Late-night hosts took Trump to task on Tuesday for his televised address about the clashes in Charlottesville, during which the president appeared to backtrack on his Monday statement, again placing blame for the violence on "both sides."

    After denouncing the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists Monday as "criminals and thugs," he fired off a series of questionable tweets and retweets, which he deleted before his press conference later in the day. "What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?... I think they do," he also said during the address. 

    Stephen Colbert, who, according to The Late Show executive producer Chris Licht, had to scrap his monologue last minute to cover Trump's comments instead, joked, "Even though many criticized how long it took, the president knew the right thing to do was make a statement on Monday, be clear about who was to blame and then move on to the people’s business ... Just kidding. He held a press conference today in what I believe was the seventh circle of Hell."

    During Trump's press conference, the president also slammed the media, saying, "If the press were not fake and were honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice." Colbert, in response, fired back with, "And if you were a better president, you would have said something very nice."

    Over on Late Night With Seth Meyers, the host made it clear Trump's comments happened just moments before they began filming. "President Donald Trump held a press conference right before we started taping, which means it's time for ‘Breaking Crazy,’“ Meyers said introducing the segment, before going on to describe Trump's presser as "clinically insane."

    "Normally when someone is talking that level of crazy, Batman crashes through the ceiling and punches him," quipped Meyers.

    On ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! they had a whole slew of Babies in Paradise sketches they planned to show before Trump's meltdown which led to the monologue being reworked. "I even thought 'Hey, maybe we won't talk much about Donald Trump tonight' and then he opened his mouth and all manner of stupid came out" lamented host Jimmy Kimmel. 

    Kimmel described how the press conference, ostensibly about infrastructure, degenerated so far into absurdity that it was like a "book club meeting turning into a cock fight." Not pulling any punches, Kimmel was moved to add that he "could say this with reasonable certainty that the president is completely unhinged. The wheels are off the wagon and hurtling towards the moon right now." 

    On CBS' Late Late Show, James Corden spoke about how Trump "totally reversed his statements from Monday." Corden stood open-mouthed after playing Trump's "blame on both sides" quote before joking that he agrees with Trump: "There was blame on the white supremacist side and on the Nazi side."

    He teased Trump for saying he amended his statement because he likes to present only the facts. "Like the time he told us his inauguration crowd was the biggest in history, or that time he told us Meryl Streep was a bad actress." Corden also mocked Trump for bragging that he had a house and winery in Charlottesville. 

    The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon taped before the president's press conference.

  • Wednesday

    As backlash to Trump's Tuesday press conference, in which he said there were "very fine people" on both sides of the Charlottesville rally, late-night hosts on Wednesday again weighed in on the president's comments and the fallout.

    On ABC, Jimmy Kimmel said that he understands why people are so upset about Trump's reaction to Charlottesville. "The president handled a group of racists with kid gloves," said Kimmel. "I want to encourage you to keep an open mind here, because maybe he did it because kid gloves are the only gloves that fit on his tiny little hands."

    Kimmel also interviewed his Kellyanne Conway puppet and as she spoke, he pointed out that she seemed to be reading off of a script of White House talking points. Conway, who kept referring to Kimmel as "Jake," insisted she wasn't reading cue cards, adding that Kimmel was spouting off "fake news." 

    The host even read mean comments from Trump supporters who were not pleased about Kimmel addressing them on Tuesday's show, when he asked them to admit they were wrong in voting for Trump. 

    On NBC's Late Night, Seth Meyers didn't hold back on his opinion of Trump, calling him a "lying racist who is desperate for praise," explaining that he didn't buy Trump's excuse for why he took so long to condemn white supremacists. "They were holding Confederate flags, Nazi flags, shouting Nazi slogans and using the Hitler salute, it was clear immediately who these people were and why they were there," said Meyers. "But Trump actually tried to claim that he — of all people — had waited because he likes to exercise restraint."

    "When I like to make a statement I like to be correct," Trump had said on Tuesday. "It's weird, because that statement isn't correct," responded Meyers.

    "There are no fine people marching with Nazis and white supremacists," Meyers said. 

    On CBS' Late Show, Stephen Colbert said that Trump channeled "the Fuhrer" in his "kamikaze press conference." 

    "Donald let Donald be Donald, the consequences and our country be damned," he said. "It was truly one for the ages: specifically 1939 to 1945."

    He addressed Trump directly about his Tuesday press conference, saying, "You showed us who you were. Everywhere in this country, people were horrified — North, South, Republican, Democrat, top, bottom, sweet, sour." 

    Jimmy Fallon taped Tuesday's Tonight Show before listening to Trump's press conference, so he addressed it on Wednesday for the first time. "It’s crazy. I’m starting to miss the old days, when we were on the verge of nuclear war with North Korea," said Fallon.

    Fallon compiled clips of people standing awkwardly next to Trump as he speaks, inspired by a photo of chief of staff John Kelly hunched over, which has since gone viral. To top things off he made a fake commercial for Trump's Charlottesville winery, in which a Trump impersonator brags that the winery only makes white wine.

    James Corden's Late Late Show monologue focused on the CEOs who all resigned from Trump's manufacturing council following his Charlottesville remarks, which caused Trump to say he was disbanding the council himself.

    “The CEO of the company 3M also resigned, and when Donald Trump asked why, they said that 3M doesn’t want to be associated with the three K’s," joked Corden.

    He addressed the Trump Tower protests in New York City, highlighting the giant Trump rat balloon at the rally. "'We find this to be a disgusting representation and we strongly condemn such an insulting portrayal,' said New York City rats."

  • Thursday

    Scott Kowalchyk/CBS

    Later in the week, Trump doubled down on his stance on the national discussion about the Confederacy when he tweeted, "sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments." 

    CBS' Late Show ripped the president's comments in Stephen Colbert's monologue Thursday, when he joked that these statues will never be replaced, "kind of like the respect for the presidency." 

    He also joked that Trump seems to "like Civil War monuments so much, he doesn't even care if they're real." His favorite, according to Colbert, is the one depicting "in 1960-18-whatever, Abraham Lincoln karate-chopped his way into Fort Sumpter, where he was shot by Ted Cruz's dad, very sad. The point is, there was violence on many sides." 

    The host concluded: "Removing Confederate statues isn't about denying that slavery happened, it's about not celebrating the people who fought to keep it going. That's why we remember the Titanic, but don't erect a monument to the iceberg." 

    Later that night on CBS, The Late Late Show's James Corden introduced his show with "throwback Thursday, so let's talk about the Confederacy."

    He also shared the widely shared image of one such Confederate monument, the statue of General Forrest, which Corden compared to "Lord Farquaad from Shrek."

    On TBS' Conan, the host acknowledged that by standing up for Civil War monuments, Trump "may just be sticking up for his fellow bronze-colored symbols of hate."

    He also commented on the several charities, including the American Cancer society, that are moving their fundraisers from Trump's Mar-a-Lago. "You know, it's not a good sign for Trump when he's considered too toxic for cancer. Cancer's like, 'who else you got?'"

    Seth Meyers on Late Night spoke about Trump's tweets as well as NY mayor Bill de Blasio's plans to review the city's monuments in an effort to see which should be removed. "Let me give you a head start," Meyers said, pointing to an image of Trump Tower. 

    He also featured a "Closer Look" on Steve Bannon, who came to Trump's defense about his response to the events in Charlottesville. Meyers added that Bannon seems to be the exception, as many on the president's team continues to stay silent, and that it seemed as though White House aides and Trump's staff were just surprised that Trump said what he said in a public setting (They're not "upset he's a racist, they're upset we found out about it"). 

    "And of course we found out about it, Donald Trump is terrible at keeping secrets. Trump would never last in Fight Club." 

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