Late-Night Hosts Take on Trump's "Obvious Lie" That He Stopped "Send Her Back" Rally Chant
"This is one of the most vile spectacles of modern political history. A defining moment for our country, and any Republican who doesn't immediately condemn it should imagine how it will look in a history textbook years from now," Seth Meyers said about the audience's cries during the president's Wednesday event.
Late-night hosts took on Donald Trump's claims that he didn't approve of those in attendance at his North Carolina rally on Wednesday chanting "send her back" directed at Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, who is a U.S. citizen but was born in Somalia.
During the rally, Trump spoke negatively of Omar and said that she "looks down with contempt on the hardworking Americans, saying that ignorance is pervasive in many parts of this country." The crowd responded by chanting, "Send her back." The chant was inspired by Trump's tweet targeted at Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley, in which he told the congresswomen to "go back" to their home countries, despite the fact that three of them were born in the United States and they are all legal citizens.
The president made no effort to stop the crowd's racist chant, though he claimed on Thursday during an interview at the Oval Office that he did not like the chant. When a reporter asked why he didn't stop the cries, Trump responded, "I think I did. I started speaking very quickly. I disagree with it, by the way." He added that he felt "a little bit badly about it."
Seth Meyers dove into the topic during the "Closer Look" segment on Late Night.
"He's a racist whose brain is mostly oatmeal and his mouth is attached to Fox News like some kind of human centipede," Meyers said of Trump. "He's a wannabe authoritarian who craves the adoration of crowds."
Meyers then shared a clip of the North Carolina crowd chanting, "Send her back."
"This is one of the most vile spectacles of modern political history. A defining moment for our country, and any Republican who doesn't immediately condemn it should imagine how it will look in a history textbook years from now because there will absolutely be a section on this and it will absolutely name everyone complicit in it and they will use the worst photo of you they can possibly find," said the host before he shared unflattering photos of Trump, Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham.
Meyers then called out Trump for his "obvious lie" that he tried to stop the chant. "No you didn't. When they started chanting, you just let them go," said the host before he shared video evidence of the president's actions. "That's not how you stop a chant. That's how you wait in line at the deli for them to call your number."
"Also, you didn't start speaking very quickly. We’ve seen you speak very quickly. Sometimes you speak so quickly your words slur and your face turns red and you start gasping for air like a whale coming up out of the water," Meyers continued.
"This is the con at the heart of Trump's politics. He whips his base into a racist frenzy and claims Omar is the one that looks down on hardworking Americans, when in reality he's the one plundering the government, doling out trillions in tax cuts to his rich buddies and partying it up all night because he doesn't have to work on Thursdays," he said.
The Late Night team continued to address Trump's comments when three female writers performed a song in response to the president. The writers, who dubbed themselves the Go Back to Your Country Girls, wore sparkly red gowns and stood in front of a backdrop of red, white and blue buildings for the number.
Amber Ruffin opened the segment by announcing that she loves America, but doesn't like detention centers. "Saying I don't like them is me exercising my free speech, but sometimes when you use that free speech to express an opinion people don't like, they respond with racism," she said.
She shared that when she tweeted that she disagreed with the detention centers, a Twitter troll told her to go back to Africa. The three performers began the musical performance by singing, "Go back to your country/ Nobody's stoppin' ya." Ruffin added that she is not from Africa, which is also not a country. "I'm from Omaha, Nebraska. The literal opposite of Africa," she said.
The writers continued to share experiences in which they received racist comments, including one writer who tweeted that she believed the government should get rid of student loan debt and another who was told to go back to her home country because she was speaking another language.
Ruffin also said that she was told to leave the country during a conversation about systemic racism. "Eat my shit. You think this country is perfect? People in cages, uninsured Americans and crippling debt. And we brought measles back," she said. "I love this country, but I think we can do better. So get the fuck out of my face with that noise, you raggedy bastard."
"We're here/ We're not going nowhere," the writers continued to sing.
Over on The Late Show, host Stephen Colbert opened the show by asking his audience to "please chant responsibly."
"Historians are already calling it, 'I Wish This Was Just a Bad Dream Speech,'" said Colbert of the rally.
The host highlighted many moments from the rally before he spoke about the racist chant. "I never thought I'd say this, but these rallies where a nationalist leader whips people up into a racist frenzy might have a dark side," he said.
He added that the rally didn't help Trump's "image as not a racist," so he tried to "distance himself from his own idea" during his press conference in the Oval Office.
"First of all, you didn't cut them off by talking. You let them fully get their hate rocks off," he said. "Second, that's your idea of quick? I look forward to the Donald Trump invitational track meet." A clip followed of runners slowly participating in a track meet.
Colbert then took on Trump's comments that he disagreed with the chants. "I didn't say that. They did," Trump told the reporter in the Oval Office.
"Trump supporters, did you see him throw you under the bus? Probably not, because you have a tire on your face right now," said Colbert. "Wait a second. Trump, you disagree with it? Hey mister, this is your party. You're the bride of the white power wedding."
He then told Trump to "grow a pair and take responsibility for what you inspired them to chant." Colbert continued, "You created that crowd. You're like Dr. Frankenstein saying, 'I didn't strangle those villagers. It was my monster. All I did was sew together some dead bodies, zap it with lightning, deny it love, set it loose and mention that I knew some people who could use a good strangle.'"
The Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon also called out Trump for lying about trying to stop the chant.
"It was wrong. That's why I only let them do it for eight or nine minutes," the host said with a Trump impression.
Fallon then said that Trump was "trying to distance himself from something he created," which he compared to how he treats his sons Eric and Don Jr. "I don't know who they are," Fallon said as Trump.
Over on Jimmy Kimmel Live, the ABC host said that Trump "put on quite a performance" during the rally.
While many Democrats and Republicans shared their outrage about the chant, Kimmel called McConnell a "spineless reptile" for not speaking out against Trump. "Not only did he not condemn the chant, he actually said — this is real — he said, 'I think the president's onto something,'" shared Kimmel. "He may be on something, but he's not onto something."
While Trump claimed that he spoke fast to stop the chant, Kimmel said, "He paused to allow the chant to fill the stadium while he basked in it."
The host then spoke about Trump's repetitive comments that the congresswomen should leave American if they're unhappy. "According to the Bill of Rights, a document the president reads about as closely as everyone else reads the Apple terms and conditions, an American citizen has the right to feel and say anything he or she wants about the country and if you do love America, you want it to be as great as it can possibly be," he said. "Does that mean you have to love every single thing about it? Obviously not, because if that was true, all of these people screaming 'love it or leave it' would've left when Obama was president."
"To love America means to love what the country stands for. It means you respect the right to free speech, even if the speech differs than yours," he continued. "To hear it from a guy who trashes American war heroes, trashes the families of war heroes, who insults his own generals, who kisses communist dictator ass, who makes most of the crap he sells on his website in China. To hear him say someone else doesn't love America and they should leave, it's crazy. It's the Constitution."
Kimmel then addressed Trump head on. "If you don't understand that, then maybe you should leave," he said. "Go be president of whatever country supplies you with your next wife. I'm sure they'll welcome you and take that little poodle Mike Pence with you."
Trevor Noah also criticized Trump's reaction to the chant on The Daily Show.
After sharing a clip of the crowd's racist chant, Noah responded, "It almost makes you miss the days when all Trump's crowd wanted to do was imprison a woman without trial." He then said that chanting, "Lock her up" about Hillary Clinton was "horrible," but "at least Hillary would get to stay in the country."
Noah added that the chant was one of the most "disturbing" moments of the Trump presidency. "It's the same way I felt when Ted Cruz grew a beard. I didn't think it could get any worse, but here we are," he said.
The show played a clip of Trump saying that he was unhappy with the chant. "Sometimes I think this guy thinks cameras don't exist. How's Trump gonna say he wasn't happy with that chant? He inspired the chant," said Noah. "He's the one who tweeted they should go back."
The host added that Trump shared the same sentiment during the speech. "This would be like the DJ turning on a crowd. He'd be like, 'Everybody make some noise,'" he joked before he impersonated the DJ telling the crowd to be respectful of the neighbors.
Noah also called out Trump for lying about not liking the chant because "he was basking in that moment like an iguana soaking up racist sun."
"He let that chant go on for so long, Usain Bolt could've won a gold medal in that time," Noah said before the time frame of the chant played over Bolt winning a race.
"We've seen this before from Trump. If you remember, he's done this. He gets his supporters worked up. He pretends to be shocked, and then it becomes one of his greatest hits when he's on the road," Noah said before he continued to explain that Trump did the same thing with the "lock her up" chant.
Noah concluded the segment by telling the Republicans that disapprove of the chant to stand up against Trump. "What I'm trying to say is, 'Grow some balls,'" he chanted.