"Just an aside: I would like to say something to all the news organizations out there," he said. "Is it really necessary to show us photos or rolling video of a terrorist exploding? That really seems like advertising for someone's cause in a way that they may like. I don't think we need to see that."
The studio audience applauded.
Colbert was the only late-night host to mention the attack. Everyone chimed in on the Orlando shooting, but Jimmy Kimmel, James Corden, Seth Meyers and Jimmy Fallon made no public displays of grief over what happened in Istanbul. There was no message of solidarity.
That's a pretty good example of what sets Colbert apart as a late-night host but also, perhaps, what makes him less successful in the ratings game. He's more interested in talking about what's happening around the globe than recruiting celebrities to do wacky gimmicks. He isn't an expert about the pop-culture things late-night hosts are supposed to know about. He doesn't even know enough about singer Demi Lovato to do an interview without sticking his foot in his mouth.
"At 23, you've already had careers that are longer than a lot of people's careers in this industry," he said to Lovato and Nick Jonas during a recent show. "And yet, no child-star meltdown — unless you want to have one right now."
"Um, I went to rehab, so…" Lovato responded.
When it comes to the issues Colbert has a grasp on, he's eloquent and inspiring. He also brings up some good points. He just might be doing it in the wrong venue.