On Monday, Stephen Colbert addressed the recent arrests of seven Late Show staffers — including the comedian behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog — at a U.S. Capitol office building in Washington, D.C. last week.
Last Thursday, a Late Show production team and Triumph puppeteer Robert Smigel were spotted around the Capitol filming a segment during the third day of the Jan. 6 hearings. Later that evening, after the building was closed to the public, the group either remained in or returned to the Longworth House Office Building to film additional materia. U.S. Capitol Police detained the group and charged them with unlawful entry.
“Thursday evening, after they’d finished their interviews, [my staff] were doing some last-minute puppetry and jokey make-em-ups in a hallway, when Triumph and my folks were approached and detained by Capitol Police — which actually is not surprising,” Colbert shared with the late-night show audience. “The Capitol Police are much more cautious than they were 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.”
He added, “The Capitol police were just doing their job, my staff was just doing their job, everyone was very professional, everyone was very calm. My staffers were detained, processed and released. A very unpleasant experience for my staff.”
Colbert confirmed that it was a “fairly simple” story — until Fox News got wind of the incident and “started claiming that my puppet squad had committed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol building.”
“First of all: what? Second of all: huh?” Colbert responded. “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 interrupting the lawful action of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power. This was first-degree puppetry.”
Colbert continued: “It’s predictable why these TV talkers are talking like this. They want to talk about something other than the January 6 hearings, the actual seditionist insurrection that led to the deaths of multiple people and the injury of over 140 police officers. But drawing any equivalency between a rioter storming the 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 obscenely trivializes the service and the courage the Capitol police showed on that terrible day. But who knows? Maybe there was a vast conspiracy to overthrow the government of the U.S. with a rubber Rottweiler.”
The interviews being filmed by The Late Show staff in Washington, D.C. were “authorized and pre-arranged,” according to a statement a CBS spokesperson gave to The Hollywood Reporter last week. According to Deadline, the production team was arrested while they were filming outside the offices of two Republican members of Congress, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Lauren Boebert.