Late Night's Stephen Colbert creates controversy with Nazi salute

The comedian was mocking recently-departed White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon.

September 8, 2017 17:54
2 minute read.
Stephen Colbert

Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert, host of 'The Colbert Report.'. (photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)


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In his first show back after a two-week vacation, popular comedian Stephen Colbert stirred controversy by giving not one, not two, but three Nazi salutes.

The sketch focused on mocking recently-departed White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, who will soon be making his first post-White House appearance in an interview on CBS's 60 Minutes. Colbert showed previews of that interview, including a clip in which Bannon defended President Donald Trump for his comments after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville.

"By the way...I was the only guy that came out and tried to defend him. I was the only guy that said 'He's talking about something, taking it up to a higher level,'' Bannon is shown saying to ''60 Minutes'' host Charlie Rose.

The camera then cuts back to Colbert. ''Yeah, he's definitely taking it to a higher level. I'd say his support is about up there, right around here,'' Colbert quips while raising his arm in a Nazi salute.

Raising his other arm in the salute, he continues, ''or over here,"  then saluting a third time, ''somewhere up there.''

Colbert's motioning was meant to invoke the idea of Bannon as a neo-Nazi, like those who marched at the rally in Charlottesville in August.

Just after the controversial rally - in which a white supremacist rallier killed a counter-protestor as he rammed the crowd with his car - Colbert condemned the president's actions. Trump's original condemnation of violence at the rallies put the blame on ''all sides,'' a comment which earned him scorn from politicians and pundits across the political spectrum. Walking back his remarks, Trump later later called out the neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups for their involvement in the violence, though afterwards he reverted back to his original comments, blaming both sides.

This isn't Colbert's first Nazi-related controversy. After Trump's original comments on the Charlottesville violence, Colbert commented on the length of time it took the president to condemn what had happened and presented a card to his audience that read ''Happy belated K-K-K Kondemnation. I can't believe you did Nazi condemn them sooner.''

In 2016, during the presidential elections, he poked fun at Trump in a sketch in which he used a chalkboard to connect statements by Trump, and in doing so, drew a swastika.

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