6:43pm PT by Katie Kilkenny, Katherine Schaffstall
Late-Night Hosts Take Aim at College Admissions Bribery Scandal
Late-night hosts took on higher education's juiciest story in recent memory on their Tuesday shows, where they discussed class inequality in America and made ample Full House jokes.
Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden and Jimmy Fallon all led their shows with comments on the 40 parents, including actresses Lori Loughlin and Felicity Huffman, that were charged Tuesday morning in a college-entrance cheating scandal. The defendants allegedly paid millions, collectively, to get students into competitive schools including Yale, Stanford, USC, Wake Forest and the University of Texas. Huffman and her husband, actor William H. Macy, is alleged to have disguised a $15,000 payment to a suspect in the scheme as a charitable donation, and requested that her daughter get 100 percent extra time on her SATs and take the test away from her school. Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, are accused of paying $500,000 to USC via the same suspect to have their daughters designated as crew recruits, though neither rows crew.
A judge agreed to allow Huffman to be released from custody on a $250,000 bond on Tuesday; as of Tuesday night, Loughlin was still not in custody.
Colbert kicked off CBS' The Late Show on Tuesday night by joking that at least the scandal didn't involve Donald Trump, which he found "refreshing." He added, "You know how conspiracy theorists say everything is rigged for the wealthy and famous? Well, as a wealthy, famous person, let me just respond by saying you're absolutely right," he said.
The host then imagined how the 200 FBI agents involved got wise to the alleged scam. "The FBI was tipped off by an essay question on this year's Common Application: 'Reflect on an accomplishment that sparked personal growth and/or list your parents' credit card number. What prompted your choice? What is the three-digit security code?'" Colbert joked.
He then threw in a nod to Loughlin's days as "Aunt Becky" on the sitcom Full House: "I know this is shocking, but this is nothing new: Back in the '90s, Loughlin was part of a notorious scheme where they made a pair of twins pretend to be one person," he joked, referring to the Olson twins' portrayal of one character on the original '80s and '90s show.
Over on Comedy Central, The Daily Show's Noah announced that the scandal was "the biggest story to rock American colleges since the invention of the red Solo cup." He continued, "It's the college admissions bribery scandal, or as I call it, Bribegate Scandalgate."
Of Loughlin's involvement, he said, "I'm so disappointed in you, Aunt Becky. I mean, I expected this from a desperate housewife, but you?" (Noah was referring to Huffman's longstanding role on the ABC series Desperate Housewives.)
Noah then pointed out that the story exemplified the wealth inequality in America, and how the rich have always attempted to give their offspring a leg up on the competition: "This story is so infuriating, rich kids should get into college the old-fashioned way — by their parents donating a library," he joked.
On NBC, Late Night's Meyers made light of Loughlin and Huffman's involvement in the $25 million scheme: "It's the worst thing Huffman's done and the second-worst thing Loughlin has," he said, as an image of Fuller House, the Netflix reboot of Full House, flashed on the screen.
And on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Kimmel also had an "Aunt Becky" jab, joking of Loughlin, "They’re saying this could be the Becky with the good hair Beyonce warned us about," referring to a refrain in Beyonce's "Sorry," from her Lemonade album.
Kimmel also reprised his ongoing mockery of friend and actor Matt Damon, saying, "According to prosecutors, it was a nationwide scam with connections to the Boston area. And I have to say I knew: I knew there was a reason Matt Damon got into Harvard."
Over on The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon briefly commented on the scheme.
After he explained that the FBI arrested parents that paid for the kids to receive better SAT and ACT scores, Fallon added, "Then 99 percent of the NFL and NBA were like, 'Yeah, that's crazy. Who would do that?'"
The Late Late Show host James Corden also spoke about the topic.
"As someone who didn't grow up here, I can now say, "Ahh, I get it. I understand how Donald Trump got into college,'" said the English host.
"Paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes so your kids can get a diploma from an elite college," he continued. "Sorry, I thought that was called 'tuition.'"
He then told his audience that Huffman and Loughlin were involved in the scheme. "I gotta say, something like this could really hurt Hollywood's reputation," he said.
Corden later referenced Loughlin's Full House character. "Looks like Aunt Becky could be going from Full House to the big house," he said.
"For the record, I just want to say nobody helped me. I skipped college all on my own," he concluded.