Chris Wallace and Stephen Colbert on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" (Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)

Stephen Colbert fact checks a Fox News anchor to his face

Colbert called out a researcher to fact-check Wallace’s false claims about asylum seekers


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Izzie Ramirez
November 2, 2018 7:51PM (UTC)

Word to the wise: Don’t come on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" if you’re a journalist who hasn't done your homework.

“Fox News Sunday” anchor Chris Wallace was a guest on the show Thursday night, the day after he had accepted the Freedom of Speech Award from the Media Institute, and Colbert dove straight into the grilling. Colbert directly asked Wallace why a journalist like himself wouldn’t want to challenge President Donald Trump’s lies. Trump, earlier that day, had delivered speech on immigration — which was packed with falsehoods — to encourage his fans to vote in the midterms. Wallace attempted to defend the speech by arguing that open borders are bad for the safety of the U.S.

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“Fear of the caravan is not good, but the idea that three, or five, or seven thousand people from another country can just walk up to our border, knock on the door, and say, ‘We want in! We want to take jobs here, we want to work here,’ no,” Wallace said. “A country does need to have borders and there does need to be some kind of system that determines whether or not people are allowed in the country. Seriously, do you believe in open borders?”

Colbert didn’t buy that: “No, we don’t have an open border. There is a system, and three to five thousand people will not make it here. This has happened many times before, and they never do, and you know that!”

But then a real conflict emerged when Wallace began to spout out “facts” regarding the process of attaining asylum.

“They are put out into the country, we don’t have enough places to put them, so we do have a catch-and-release program,” Wallace continued, “and about 10 percent of the people that are caught and released return for their hearings. And only about 10 percent get legitimate asylum.”

Colbert called out a researcher to fact-check Wallace’s claims.

“Those aren’t the facts I’ve seen. We’ve got a long interview. By the time this is over we’ll know whether you’re right, okay? If a majority show up for their hearing, how wrong would you be?”

Wallace began to backtrack quickly. “I would be about 40 percent wrong,” Wallace said.

At the end of their interview, the researcher printed out a PolitiFact fact check and revealed that 60 percent to 70 percent of non-detained immigrants attended immigration-court proceedings, according to the Department of Justice.

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Wallace accepted his error, but not before jokingly tearing up the fact-check sheet.


Izzie Ramirez

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