After a day of shocking images as the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a mob of President Trump supporters, even the late night hosts struggled for laughs.
On “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” the usually buoyant host called Wednesday “a disgrace” and “disappointing,” but “not a surprise.”
“If my grandfather were alive today and saw what was happening in the country that he fought for, he’d be disgusted,” Fallon said. “People walking around with the flag upside-down, thinking they’re patriotic? Today was not patriotism, today was terrorism.”
Fallon reflected on a day of wondering “how could this happen?” before he turned to the question “how can I help?” The comedian resolved he could do so by trying to reassure viewers at home.
He added: “We’ve seen it over and over again during the pandemic, from the frontline workers to the cashiers at grocery stores, to everyone delivering food or raising money for people who need it, we are best when we work together and step up.”
Stephen Colbert rips Republicans who ‘let this happen’
Normally taped ahead of air time, “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” went live Wednesday night as a visibly furious Colbert ripped Republican leaders including Sens. Josh Hawley, Marsha Blackburn, Kelly Loeffler, Ron Johnson and John Kennedy, who he said “let this happen” through “five years of coddling this president’s fascist rhetoric.”
“This is the most shocking, most tragic, least surprising thing I have ever seen,” he said, calling Wednesday “a horrifying day that will go down in U.S. history, however much longer that is.”
Colbert broke down specific moments from the mob attack, including instances when a man hoisted a Confederate flag inside the Capitol building and when a white man in a Q-Anon t-shirt chased a Black Capitol security officer up a flight of stairs, asking lawmakers if it all meant that America was “great again yet.”
“For years now, people have been telling you cowards that if you let the president lie about our democracy over and over and then join him in that lie and say he’s right when you know for a fact he is not, there will be a terrible price to pay,” he said. “But you just never thought you’d have to pay it, too. I really do hope you’re enjoying those tax cuts.”
Seth Meyers calls for Trump’s ‘immediate removal’
After midnight, Meyers began “Late Night with Seth Meyers” with a grim, direct monologue that recapped the day’s events, placing the blame on Trump as well as other Republican lawmakers and right-wing media outlets that aided him, and calling for the president’s immediate removal from office.
“Multi-racial, pluralistic democracy is fragile and precious and it requires our vigilant stewardship and protection, and anyone not willing to forward that project with the fullness of their effort must be shamed and disgraced and removed from office,” Meyers said.
Calling out lawmakers including Sens. Ted Cruz and Hawley, Meyers said those in the House and Senate who “goaded this on” are responsible for the events and “should wear this shame and disgrace for the rest of their lives.”
He added: “No one who aided and abetted today’s actions should be allowed to serve in the democracy they so clearly detest.”
The host also lamented what he called “a shining glimmer of hope”: “in Georgia, there were Black voters who went to the polls in unprecedented numbers to exercise their right that just 55 years ago, they did not have. They elected (Raphael Warnock) the first Black senator to represent the state, the first Black Democrat to represent any southern state. They also elected (Jon Ossoff) the Jewish son of an immigrant.”
Later on in the show, Meyers invited on Nicolle Wallace, MSNBC anchor and former White House communications director for George W. Bush, and rapper and activist Killer Mike to discuss the day’s events.
James Corden shares hope for ‘better times ahead’
The normally bubbly James Corden was somber to begin “The Late Late Show With James Corden,” giving an emotional, ultimately inspirational speech.
“What a crazy, sad day. A day that will go down as a dark one in the long history of America,” said Corden, his voice cracking with emotion. “It felt sad, it felt wrong, but mainly, it felt hopeless. I hope when the dust settles and we reflect on what happened on this awful day, that we still have hope.”
The British-born Corden spoke of an America that used to inspire in him, and people around the world, as a shining beacon of possibility. This vision has been especially challenged the last year as the country struggles with a COVID-19 pandemic and political strife.
“Today, people across the world, would have looked at these pictures in Washington and wondered what on Earth has happened to this great country?” said Corden. “But I truly believe that the America they admire still exists. The America so many aspire to will be back. It’s been hijacked by a lunatic and his crazy army for the last four years. But that’s about to end.”
Corden pointed out that on Jan. 20, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in as president and vice president of the United States, “on those same steps where that mob fought and pushed past police.”
“Today was their last dance at the worst party that any of us have ever been to,” said Corden, speaking of Trump and his administration. “Change is coming. Science is real. Vaccines are on the way. I really do believe that there are better times ahead.”
Jimmy Kimmel calls Trump ‘too angry, too insecure and too incompetent’
Before his late night show aired, Jimmy Kimmel shared a video on Twitter displaying conflicting messages from Trump — talking tough about Black Lives Matters protestors but offering approving words on the mob who rushed the Capitol.
“I’m starting to think this guy’s not consistent,” Kimmel wrote.
On “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” the host dug into the president for the day’s events.
“Thank you for joining us – for the treason finale – of the Donald Trump era,” said Kimmel. “This was one of those days that I always assumed was behind us. This was not the sort of thing I ever imagined would happen in this country in my lifetime. ”
“The President of the United States – because he is too angry, too insecure and too incompetent to deal with the fact that he lost an election, a fair election — an election that was no different than any other election, an election he lost by seven million votes, and 70 electors, turns an angry mob against members of Congress and his own vice president,” said Kimmel.
The host laid into Trump, as well as senators who have continued to rail against the November election results.
“Our president – and the scumbags who have kept this stolen-election charade going – and that’s you Josh Hawley – that’s you Ted Cruz – either intentionally, or just wildly irresponsibly, lit these fires,” said Kimmel, “to start a war just to distract us from the fact that Donald Trump lost the election.”
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