Stephen Colbert Says He's Innocent in 'Racist Tweet' Imbroglio
Stephen Colbert is the latest talk show host feeling the ire of Asian communities over a joke deemed racially insensitive -- although in this case, it appears Colbert himself has been falsely accused.
“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” The Colbert Report official Twitter account posted on Thursday.
The joke was a reference to a bit from Wednesday night’s episode of the show, in which Colbert made fun of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder's recent move to establish the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation in response to the controversy over the team's name, which many consider to be racist. Synder has said he is establishing the organization "to provide resources that offer genuine opportunities for Tribal communities," but Colbert played it up as an obvious PR gimmick.
"Ching-Chong Ding-Dong" is a recurring caricature of a caricature of Asians that Colbert has been deploying on his show since at least 2011. It was also part of Wednesday's bit about Synder and the Redskins.
Out of context, the joke shocked and enraged many Twitter users, who quickly mobilized a #CancelColbert campaign. The offending tweet was deleted by Comedy Central, but screen captures of it have been circulating widely online.
In the early hours of Friday, Colbert had caught wind of the imbroglio and took to his personal account @StephenAtHome to clarify that his Comedy Central show's verified Twitter account is not written by him. He also suggested that doesn't even know who writes it. The Colbert Show Twitter account also tweeted a series of messages saying its host had nothing to do with the joke gone wrong.
Last October, Jimmy Kimmel and ABC found themselves in hot water over a segment of Jimmy Kimmel Live! in which a child joked about "killing everyone in China" to help erase the U.S. debt. The skit inspired waves of complaints and street protests from a group called 80-20 that identifies itself as a pan-Asian-American political organization. The situation escalated to the extent that the Chinese government minister publicly condemned the bit and demanded that ABC respond to the incident with a "sincere attitude." ABC and Kimmel both apologized several times.
See some of the Twitter exchange below.
#CancelColbert because white liberals are just as complicit in making Asian Americans into punchlines and we aren't amused.— Suey Park (@suey_park) March 27, 2014
Whew. I'm glad it wasn't just me feeling super uncomfortable about that tweet. I know it's satire. I wasn't laughing. #CancelColbert— yoonhee kim (@yoonheehees) March 28, 2014