Colbert on ‘replacement theory’: ‘It’s being mainstreamed by Fox News’

After a recurrence of Covid that paused production for the second time in a month, Stephen Colbert returned to the Late Show on Monday evening. “While I am happy to be back, I am sad to say that as you know, the #1 story today is not only tragic, it is tragically common,” he began. “Because the attack in Buffalo this weekend is not the first overtly racist mass shooting this country has witnessed in recent years.”

“It’s a truly horrific crime,” he continued: a shooting in which a white 18-year-old suspect targeted a supermarket in a black neighborhood, killing 10 people. “And of course our hearts are with the victims and their families and their community. In this case, a predominantly black neighborhood that the suspect targeted after spelling out his motivations clearly in an online rant in which he referred to something called ‘replacement theory’.”

Said theory is a white supremacist conspiracy that holds white people in the US will be replaced by people of color. “Obviously that is racist and hateful and crazy,” Colbert noted. “Also, if you think white people are being replaced, then who’s shopping at Vineyard Vines?”

“Where does anyone get an idea that monstrous?” he wondered. “Well, it used to be only from the farthest rightwing fringe organizations – your Storm Fronts, your neo-Nazis. But these days, you can see it every night on TV” thanks to Fox News and host Tucker Carlson, who has advanced the idea that a “cabal of elites want to force demographic change through immigration” in more than 400 episodes of his show. According to the New York Times, producers sometimes found raw material for his show from the same internet corners that the Buffalo shooter did.

“That doesn’t mean Tucker’s responsible for what happened,” said Colbert. “But I would hope it would give anyone pause to find out that their browser history matches that of a mass murderer.”

Recent polls found that 50% of Republicans agree with, as Colbert called it, “this garbage, and not just because it’s being mainstreamed by Fox News, but because it’s being mainstreamed by high-ranking Republican officials”. Colbert pointed to the House GOP conference chair, Elise Stefanik, who published a series of Facebook ads last year claiming that “radical Democrats” planned to grant amnesty to immigrants to “overthrow our current electorate and create a permanent liberal majority in Washington”.

“Oh, and you know what those liberals will do with their powerful permanent majority?” he mocked. “Beg Joe Manchin for paid family leave, and then when he doesn’t vote for it say, ‘oh, OK then, is there something else we could do for you? What if we fed coal directly to dolphins?’”

On Late Night, Seth Meyers also tore into the right’s embrace of racist replacement theory. “It should be easy for a healthy political party in a healthy political system to condemn white nationalism, as well as the dangerous and deeply racist replacement theory that comes with it, and yet of course there are prominent figures on the right who insist while spreading it themselves that it doesn’t even exist,” he said.

Meyers played a clip from Carlson’s show from August 2019: “if you were to assemble a list, a hierarchy of concerns or problems this country faces, where would white supremacy be on the list? Right up there with Russia, probably. It’s actually not a real problem in America … it’s a hoax.”

“First of all, you don’t have to be a card-carrying member of a white supremacist organization to be a white supremacist,” said Meyers. “It’s not Costco – you can be a white supremacist without being an official member, the same way you can watch movies without having a Blockbuster card.

“But of course, he wants to pretend it’s not a problem. Because he’s also openly and repeatedly promoted replacement theory on his show,” Meyers added before several clips of Carlson fretting about “obedient” immigrants from “third world countries” pushing out white Americans.

“Prominent figures on the right have been parroting this depraved and deeply racist ideology for years now,” Meyers concluded. “And on top of being bigoted, dehumanizing and dangerous, it’s also just breathtakingly dumb. It’s so dumb even they can’t actually explain the logic.”

And on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon started with the first public congressional hearing on UFOs in over 50 years, to be held on Tuesday. “Now that all the problems on Earth have been solved, on to UFOs!” he joked. Since 2004, 144 people have reported a UFO sighting, which means “you have a better chance of spotting a UFO than a Home Depot employee.”

Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos and the White House have gone back and forth on Twitter after Biden blamed corporations for inflation, and the Amazon CEO blamed inflation on the president’s stimulus plans. “Now Bezos is gonna buy Twitter from Elon Musk just to ban Biden,” Fallon quipped. “Things are getting intense – right now the CIA is spying on Bezos and Alexa is spying on Biden.

“That’s right, it’s Amazon versus the government,” he added. “So now we know how the drone war will begin.”

And McDonald’s announced it will sell all of its businesses in Russia after three decades in the country. “Sad news for Russians who will now probably live 20 years longer,” Fallon joked. “Right now a Russian guy is frantically sprinting to McDonald’s to try to redeem his Monopoly stickers.”

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