Hundreds of newspapers banned together Thursday to publish editorials about the danger of President Donald Trump's anti-press rhetoric, to defend the First Amendment, and to stand in solidarity with each other in an increasingly hostile climate for journalists.
While much of the country has been consumed with the drama and recordings from former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, Stephen Colbert said Thursday night that's just a side-show — after all, Trump's "true nemesis is the free press."
"The Late Show" then played a highlights montage of the countless times that Trump has degraded the press during his campaign rallies or other speaking events. "They are the fake, fake, disgusting news!" he said in Pennsylvania; "Those very dishonest people back there," he said in Minnesota, pointing to the press; "Absolute dishonest, absolute scum," he said in South Carolina; "I call the fake news the 'Enemy of the People,' and they are," he said during the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. There were many more examples.
"That's good footage," Colbert joked. "Thank God the 'Enemy of the People' was there to accurately record it."
"This initiative was spearheaded by the Boston Globe," the late-night host continued, "which lead the charge with their editorial: 'The Free Press is wicked smaht, Donald Trump has gone too fahhhhhhhh!'" he said, imitating an exaggerated Boston accent. "The Late Show" displayed a mock-up front page of this headline, with another local news headline that read: "Dunkin Donuts opens inside other Dunkin Donuts."
The San Francisco Chronicle decided not to participate in the #FreePress day, instead, writing an editorial predicting Trump's response. "It plays right into Trump's narrative that the media are aligned against him," John Diaz wrote Thursday. "I can just anticipate his Thursday morning tweets accusing the 'FAKE NEWS MEDIA' of 'COLLUSION!' and 'BIAS!'"
"The president? He would never," Colbert replied. "OK, he would. OK, he did."
Thursday morning, Trump sent out a series of tweets addressing the "FAKE NEWS MEDIA," calling the press the "OPPOSITION PARTY" and adding that "It is very bad for our Great Country."
The president also attacked the Boston Globe specifically, claiming it is in "COLLUSION with other papers on free press," validating a spot-on prediction from Diaz. Then, Trump added, "PROVE IT!"
"'Prove it?' You can't accuse someone of something and then demand they prove it," Colbert said. "'I think you committed the murder, Roger! Help prove it! And let me hope I'm right.'"
That wasn't the end, though. Trump said in another tweet, "There is nothing that I want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!"
"It's true, no it is true," Colbert replied, "honesty wins. But lying will get you the electoral college."