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Stephen Colbert fired back at the #CancelColbert controversy on his first show back behind The Colbert Report desk since a racially insensitive tweet was sent from the Comedy Central show’s Twitter account late last week.
“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‘s official Twitter account posted the evening of March 27. The joke, tweeted without context, was a reference to a bit from the March 26 episode, 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 controversy over the team’s name, which many consider to be racist. Out of context, the joke shocked and enraged Twitter users, who quickly mobilized a #CancelColbert campaign.
The Colbert Report on Monday opened with a dream sequence featuring news reports of the outcry calling for the show to be canceled before Colbert — dressed in Washington Redskins garb — was wakened by B.D. Wong. Later, the satirical late-night news host didn’t miss a beat when he addressed the Twitter controversy in a lengthy “Who’s Attacking Me Now?” segment, which also included a rant about emojis. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone also appeared at the end of the program, to shut down @ColbertReport. (The Twitter page no longer exists.)
“The dark forces trying to silence my message of core conservative principles mixed with youth-friendly product placement have been thwarted,” Colbert said, after proclaiming that “the Interwebs tried to swallow me whole.”
Colbert explained that the joke had been posted to Facebook without controversy prior to the offending tweet: “We almost lost me. I’m never gonna take me for granted. Who would have thought that a means of communication limited to 140 characters would ever create misunderstanding?” Colbert emphasized that he didn’t tweet from @ColbertReport, but rather “the brain trust over at my network” Comedy Central. (Early Friday, Colbert took to his personal account, @StephenAtHome, to clarify that he wasn’t responsible for tweets coming from @ColbertReport.)
“When I saw the tweet with no context, I understood how people were offended,” Colbert said during the 12-minute segment, before assuring viewers of The Colbert Report that he is “not a racist.” “I don’t even see race, not even my own. People tell me I’m white and I believe them because I just devoted six minutes to explain how I’m not a racist.”
Colbert then talked about the barrage of coverage in the news media over the #CancelColbert debacle, which he said was a top five trending topic on Twitter for more than 36 hours and prompted three straight days of incessant coverage. Also during the segment, Colbert asked viewers not to give #CancelColbert trend starter and activist Suey Park a hard time.
But because the controversy was stirred following a Thursday broadcast, Colbert was unable to respond until after the weekend. “In a sense, I was canceled for three days… just like Jesus,” he said as the segment wound down.
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