Colbert fires back at the ‘interwebs’

FILE - In this Oct. 13, 2013 file photo, Stephen Colbert delivers the keynote address during the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, a charity gala organized by the Archdiocese of New York, at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. Comedy Central deleted a message Thursday, March 27, 2014, from its "Colbert Report" Twitter feed showing a still from Wednesday night's show where Stephen Colbert joked about starting a "Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever." The joke was part of a skit in which Colbert talked about the Washington Redskins' owner buying things for Native Americans upset with the team's name.(AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, file)
Stephen Colbert delivers the keynote address during a charity gala organized by the Archdiocese of New York, in October 2013. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow, file)

Stephen Colbert and his writing staff were in fighting form Monday night, after a controversy stemming from an out-of-context tweet had hashtag activists calling for his head.

Accompanied by the somber “Adagio for Strings,” the show opened with a montage that showed the “Report” being dismantled and shut down like a shipping vessel being retired from duty: the lights went out, a flower wilted, and news reports calling for the cancellation of the show all played, along with the famous image of a Native American crying over the state of the environment, and scenes from the apocalypse.

Then Colbert rose from his dream sequence — or nightmare — in Washington Redskins apparel, awoken by actor B.D. Wong.

“… the interwebs tried to swallow me whole but I am proud to say that I got lodged in its throat and it hacked me back up like a hastily-chewed chicken wing. I’m still here. The dark forces’ attempt to silence my message of core conservative principles mixed with youth friendly product placement have been thwarted.

“This was close!” Colbert exclaimed. “We almost lost me!”

The show was full of the signature gems that mark Colbert’s humor:

“Who would have thought that a means of communication limited to 140 characters would ever create misunderstanding,” he asked.

Some wondered if Colbert would invite Suey Park, the originator of the #CancelColbert hashtag, on his show. Colbert interviewed Biz Stone, one of the founders of Twitter. During the segment, Stone shut down the Colbert Report Twitter account; if you try to look at it now, you’ll get a message that says “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

Though Park did not appear on the show, Colbert did address the harassment directed at her. After #CancelColbert began trending on Twitter, Park became the target of sexist and racist attacks from some defending the comedian.

“If anyone is doing that for me, I want you to stop right now,” Colbert said. “She’s just speaking her mind, that’s what Twitter is for, as well as ruining the ending of every show I haven’t seen yet.”

The Colbert Report Twitter account posted this message March 27, after a segment Colbert did mocking Washington football team owner Daniel Snyder’s and his offer to aid Native Americans:

“I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”

Snyder had recently announced he would be creating the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation while still maintaining the Washington Redskins as the name of the team, despite protests from those who say the name is a slur.

Park said that intent did not matter. “Well-intentioned racial humor doesn’t actually do anything to end racism or the Redskins mascot,” she told the New Yorker. “That sort of racial humor just makes people who hide under the title of progressivism more comfortable.”

Colbert offered this summation: “A web editor I’ve never met posts a tweet in my name on an account I don’t control, outrages a hashtag activist, and the news media gets 72 hours of content,” he said. “The system worked.”

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Soraya Nadia McDonald covers arts, entertainment and culture for the Washington Post with a focus on race and gender issues.
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