Late-Night Hosts Strongly Denounce Trump's "Shameful" Charlottesville Reaction
"You can stand for a nation or you can stand for a hateful movement — you can't do both," said Seth Meyers.
On Monday's late-night shows, the hosts expressed their disgust and disappointment with Donald Trump for taking two days to condemn Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists after the deadly events in Charlottesville, Va., this past weekend.
Late Night's Seth Meyers solemnly spoke about the "terror attack" in which a white supremacist allegedly drove into a crowd of counterprotestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others. 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."
Meyers said that while Trump finally spoke out against white supremacists Monday, "I'm sorry, pencils down on this subject was Saturday evening."
"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."
In a lighter but still firm "Closer Look" segment, Meyers continued to discuss the weekend's events, which he called the lowest moment in Trump's presidency, saying that Americans "shouldn't have to shame or pressure the president into saying Nazis are bad.
"This whole thing was such a bummer because Nazis were the last thing we all agreed on," said Meyers.
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."
Fallon said it's important for everyone, "especially white people in this country," to stand up against racism because "ignoring it is just as bad as supporting it." He added that it's crucial to "show the next generation that we haven't forgotten how hard people have fought for human rights."
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. "Many sides? Mr. President, this is terrorism, not your order at KFC."
Colbert said 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. He added that Trump is not a "shrinking violet."
"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. He called Trump out for, on Monday, reading a script someone else wrote for him when denouncing Nazis, but then minutes later very easily criticizing CNN off the top of his head without a second's pause.
After reading the statement from Tiki Brand, disavowing the use of its product for the white supremacist rally over the weekend, Colbert added, "I got to say it's pretty troubling when a backyard decoration comes out swinging stronger against Nazis than the president of the United States."
"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.
Kimmel highlighted Angela Merkel's denouncement of the rally and said, "Germany is taking a stronger stance against Nazis than we are, and they invented them."
The Late Late Show's James Corden also took issue with how long it took Trump to condemn white supremacists.
"Trump condemned Nazis today the way my 4-year-old son does when I ask him to put dishes in the dishwasher — 'Fine, I'll do it.'"
He called out the president for starting his speech by talking about the huge gains in the economy, jokingly adding, "especially in forms of pitchforks, torches and white sheets."
Corden, like Colbert, rattled off a list of people and things that Trump condemned faster than Nazis, including Meryl Streep, James Comey and Samuel L. Jackson.
"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.