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)

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.

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"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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