Colbert on "shameful" Fox News coverage that painted dog puppet act in the Capitol as "insurrection"

Tucker Carlson cried "insurrection" after Triumph the Insult Comic Dog was detained by Capitol Police

By Joy Saha

Staff Writer

Published June 21, 2022 4:51PM (EDT)

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (Scott Kowalchyk/CBS)

Stephen Colbert has set the record straight about what really happened on Capitol Hill after several of his staffers were arrested on-site Thursday night.

During Monday's episode of "The Late Show With Stephen Colbert," its host revealed that seven members of his production team were detained at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C. while filming a comedy segment involving the crude, cigar-smoking puppet character Triumph the Insult Comic Dog (the brainchild of comedian Robert Smigel).

"Last week I heard from my old colleague Triumph the Insult Comic Dog," Colbert said in the beginning of his monologue. "Triumph offered to go down to D.C. to interview some Congress people to highlight the Jan. 6 hearings. I said 'Sure, if you can get anyone to agree to talk to you, because — and please don't take this as an insult — you're a puppet.'"

But that didn't stop Triumph from securing interviews with politicians on both sides of the aisle. The puppet and his crew went through security, filmed "for two days in congressional offices" and were even "invited into the offices of the Congress people they were interviewing."

Amid filming, the group was arrested by the Capitol Police and charged with unlawful entry.

"After they finished their interviews, they were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by the Capitol Police — which actually isn't that surprising," Colbert continued, before subtly mentioning the congressional hearings regarding the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection. "The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for a very good reason. If you don't know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch."

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Colbert then defended his staffers and the Capitol Police, stating that both parties were "just doing their job."

"My staffers were detained, processed and released," he added. "A very unpleasant experience for my staff, a lot of paperwork for the Capitol Police, but a fairly simple story."

The story, however, quickly escalated shortly afterward the incident last week when FOX News' Tucker Carlson along with conservative critics on Twitter lambasted Colbert's team and accused them of "insurrection."  

"Last night, producers for Stephen Colbert's CBS show committed insurrection at the United States Capitol," Carlson said on Friday's episode of "Tucker Carlson Tonight." "Adam Schiff gave producers from CBS access to the Capitol. And then the group remained in the Longworth House Office Building after hours."

He continued, "It is likely that some members of Stephen Colbert's team will be held in solitary confinement for a year and a half without being charged. Because this is an insurrection. Joking aside, how could they not be held? — The precedent is in place."

Mollie Hemingway, the editor-in-chief of the conservative online magazine "The Federalist," expressed similar sentiments online.

"What did the J6 committee know and when did they know it about the Colbert insurrection at the Capitol?" she wrote.

In a quote tweet disclosing the news of the arrest, radio/TV host Mark Simone also asked, "This is exactly what the January 6th protestors are charged with, so will these Colbert creeps get the same, no bail, solitary confinement treatment???"

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Colbert jokingly addressed these reactions in his monologue, saying, "First of all, what? Second of all, huh? Third of all, they weren't in the Capitol building. Fourth of all — and I'm shocked I have to explain the difference — but an insurrection involves disrupting the lawful actions of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power."

"This was first-degree puppetry," he added. "This was hijinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old 'Conan' bit. It's really Conan's fault."

On a more serious note, Colbert then criticized the far-right for making such meaningless comparisons, which he said was a way for them to divert attention away from the ongoing hearings.  

"They want to talk about something other than the Jan. 6 hearings or the actual seditionist insurrection that led to the deaths of multiple people, and the injury of over 140 police officers," he said.

"But drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died. And it obscenely trivializes the service and the courage the Capitol Police showed on that terrible day."

Watch Colbert's full monologue below, via YouTube:

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By Joy Saha

Joy Saha is a staff writer at Salon, covering Culture and Food. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park.


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Aggregate Insurrection Jan. 6 Stephen Colbert The Late Show With Stephen Colbert Tucker Carlson