When Stephen Colbert heard that Melania Trump was visiting a shelter for migrant children in Texas on Thursday, he said he thought, “Okay, this is what first ladies often do.”
They “go to a troubled area, they see the children, they show that we care. You can’t mess that up,” Colbert said on his show Thursday night. “Guess what? I spoke too soon.”
On her way to address the border crisis, the first lady was captured wearing a jacket emblazoned on the back with the phrase “I really don’t care, do u?”
“That’s what they settled on?” Colbert said. “What was her first choice? A jacket that says ‘womp womp’?” (He was, of course, referring to the phrase used by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in response to a story about a girl with Down syndrome being separated from her mother.)
Colbert quipped that perhaps the Trump administration, in an attempt to “try to humanize these child detention centers,” decided to “send their most high-profile detainee, Melania Trump.”
Colbert played a video clip of Trump asking a staff member at a border facility about the maximum length of time a child might stay in the center before reuniting with family members.
“The average length of stay, currently, is between 42 and 45 days,” the staff member said.
The first lady nodded. “That’s great,” she said.
“That’s great?” Colbert responded. He imitated Trump’s voice, saying, “My record for being gone is 25 days.”
On “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” and “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” both comics picked on a statement from the first lady’s spokeswoman in which she assured reporters that it was “just a jacket. There was no hidden message.”
“Hidden? It was literally spelled out,” Meyers said. “That’s like saying if you play an Aerosmith song forward it contains a song about love in an elevator.”
If it were any message, Meyers said, perhaps it was Melania and Donald Trump’s “wedding vows.”
“You know,” he said, “a lot of people are giving her a hard time about it, but I think it’s nice that she had a jacket made to display her wedding vows: ‘You take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?’ ‘I don’t care. Do you?’ ‘No.’ ”
While Melania’s spokeswoman said “there was no hidden message,” the president appeared to suggest there was one in a tweet Thursday night.
He said the message on her jacket “refers to the Fake News Media. Melania has learned how dishonest they are, and she truly no longer cares!”
“Is the president now tweeting onto his wife’s clothes?” Kimmel asked. “There either was or wasn’t a hidden message,” he said. “It was one of those two things.”
In a normal White House, Colbert asked, how many people would get fired for such a wardrobe mishap? “One? Five? The entire executive branch?”
“Because in the middle of the worst moral scandal in recent memory, so bad that her husband backed down for the first time in memory, people who were supposedly on her side let her get on a plane with a jacket that said, ‘I really don’t care, do you?’ ” Colbert said.
“For the record, we do,” he added.