By replacing David Letterman with Stephen Colbert, conservatives have been quick to point out that CBS is making a clear political statement.
With the selection of Colbert, the thinking goes, CBS is keeping the “Late Show” as a bastion of liberalism.
For his part, Colbert has no explicitly expressed political views — at least, if you agree with The New York Times, which says that “he has never openly endorsed Democrats or liberal positions.” But Colbert’s schtick, and his career in general, suggest otherwise.
He once joked on air that the Taliban had a “better record on women’s rights” than Rush Limbaugh. After the Newtown massacre, he said that NRA chief Wayne LaPierre was “f***ed in the head.” He also called Sarah Palin a retard. Colbert may speak through the veil of satire, but those statements were made in anything but jest.
And he has been political out of character and off the air. In early 2013, House Democrats invited him to speak at their Caucus Issues Conference on their Twitter account. According to Politico, Colbert was invited by Nancy Pelosi herself.
— House Democrats (@HouseDemocrats) February 8, 2013
He spoke before the House on illegal immigration in 2010. Invited by Democrat Zoe Lofgren, Colbert maintained character throughout the hearing– and amused the various Democrats present with his over-the-top suggestions for how to address the problem of migrant work.
In an NPR interview in 2005, Colbert conceded, “I didn’t realize quite how liberal I was until I was asked to make passionate comedic choices as opposed to necessarily successful comedic choices.”
These sort of choices were made when Colbert performed at the 2006 White House Correspondent’s Dinner. Performing after the president and a George W. Bush look-a-like, Colbert’s caustic performance had a number of scathing and telling jabs. Colbert said that “reality has a well-known liberal bias” and “I give people the truth, unfiltered by rational argument. I call it the ‘No Fact Zone’. Fox News, I hold a copyright on that term.” Throughout his bit, Colbert’s criticism of both Bush and the Washington media establishment did not abate.
Colbert’s performance to his captive audience managed to be objectionable enough for such liberals as the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen and House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer. Cohen opined that “Colbert was not just a failure as a comedian but rude.” Referring to Bush, Hoyer said, “He is the president of the United States, and he deserves some respect”.
And now, Colbert will take the reins at CBS’s “Late Show.”
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said that the move signals that “CBS has just declared war on the heartland of America.” Newsbusters — a subsidiary of the conservative Media Research Center — and the conservative website Truth Revolt also concluded the same thing: With the retirement of David Letterman, CBS and the “Late Show” lose one liberal. With Stephen Colbert, they gain one right back.