After the failed insurrection on Wednesday, in which thousands of extremists stormed the U.S. Capitol building amid the Electoral College vote count, several late-night hosts addressed the shocking turn of events at the start of their shows. Expressing outrage, disgust and sadness in equal measure, the comedians were largely sombre as they reflected on the unprecedented attack.
Jimmy Fallon, James Corden, Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Seth Meyers all made special remarks addressing the riots, and strongly condemned those involved in storming the building and the political figures responsible for fostering and inciting the domestic terrorists’ actions — most notably President Donald Trump.
Here’s a roundup of some of Wednesday night’s political monologues and emotional reflections from the hosts of late-night TV talk shows.
“These are difficult times to do an entertainment show. These are difficult times to do any show,” Fallon shared in the opening minutes of Wednesday’s “Tonight Show”. “But these are also times when we need each other the most.”
“In times like these I think to myself, ‘How is this happening? How can this be happening?’ But I’m also thinking, ‘How can I help? And being here tonight and talking to you at home and reassuring you that we are going to be okay and that this is not what our country is about, is how I can help,” Fallon continued.
The typically light-hearted host went on to share, “If my grandfather were alive today and saw what was happening in the country that he fought for, he’d be disgusted. People walking around with the flag upside down thinking they’re patriotic. Today was not patriotism. Today was terrorism.”
“Today was a disgrace. Today was disappointing. But, sadly, today was not a surprise,” Fallon said. “But it’s important to remember that this is not who we are. I assure you there are more good people than there are bad, and good will prevail.”
“Good evening. What a crazy, sad day. A day that will go down as a dark one in the long history of America,” Corden shared, from his set in her garage where he’s once again taping the “Late Late Show” amid the coronavirus surge in California.
“We’ve all sat today glued to the pictures of Trump supporters breaching the Capitol, fighting with police, shouting in the chambers of congress or flagrantly popping off a selfie as they sit with their feet up in the government’s offices,” Corden continued. “Then, under the pretense of trying to calm the situation, their hero, the president, released a message this afternoon to tell those supporters that ‘You’re special and we love you.’ I wouldn’t even want to imagine his treatment or response to those people if they had been wearing Black Lives Matter hats instead of red MAGA ones.”
“As an outsider, growing up in England, I used to look to America as this beacon of light and possibility, as a place where anything can happen, a place where you’d be lucky to work, a place where many people that I knew used to fantasize about living in,” the English comedian continued. “And yet today, people across the world would have looked at these pictures from Washington and they would have wondered what on earth has happened to this great country.”
“But I truly believe — and make no mistake — that they know that the America that they admire still exists. They know that the America that so many aspire to will be back,” he added. “It’s just been hijacked by a lunatic and his crazy army for the last four years. But that’s about to end.”
“In two weeks, on those same steps where that mob fought and pushed past police, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the president of the United States. In two weeks, on those same steps where that mob fought and pushed past the police, Kamala Harris will be sworn in as the Vice President of the United States,” he said. “In two weeks, on those same steps where that mob fought and pushed past police, those two new senators will walk up to take their seats in congress. A 33-year-old Jewish man and an African American pastor whose mother once picked cotton in fields and now she picked her son in the polls as the new senator.”
Corden concluded, “And in two weeks on those same steps where that mob fought and pushed past the police, the people who encouraged and instigated that violence — Donald Trump, his children, Rudy Giuliani — they’re all going to need a tourist pass to get in, because they’ve lost the presidency, they’ve lost the House, and now they’ve lost the Senate… So, if you can, have hope.”
“There are some dark subjects that we talk about on the show occasionally, but I’ve rarely been as upset as I am tonight,” Colbert began his live episode of Global’s “The Late Show”, before digging into Trump’s most outspoken GOP supporters in Congress and the Senate.
“Republicans who supported this president, especially the ones in the joint session of Congress today, have you had enough? After five years of coddling this president’s fascist rhetoric, guess whose followers want to burn down the Reichstag,” Colbert said. “Because today, the U.S. Capitol was overrun for the first time since 1814, and a woman died… It is the most shocking, most tragic, least-surprising thing I’ve ever seen.”
“[I have] a question for the Republican senators who helped foment this insurrection: Why did you run away? I mean, these are your peeps. They love you. Why didn’t you hang out with your buddies, Marsha Blackburn, Kelly Loeffler, Ron Johnson, John “Not that Kennedy” Kennedy?” he continued. “You can run all you want for the rest of your lives but you can never escape the responsibility of what you brought upon American democracy today.”
Colbert shot down some claims from political pundits trying to minimize the seriousness of the attack, sharing, “This was never some sort of peaceful protest. This was Charlottesville come home to roost on Capitol Hill.”
“Hot tip for the rioters by the way: I know you guys don’t like to be told to wear masks, but those masks really would have come in handy when you’re getting your picture taken while you’re breaking the law,” Colbert said. “And you know the people you were doing all of this supposedly to help? Well, those folks are out of power now. They can’t protect you. As a matter of fact, they hid in the basement from you, and they will turn on you in a second because they believe in nothing but themselves.”
“This was one of those days that I always assumed was behind us,” Kimmel began in his monologue, speaking from his home where he — like Corden — is filming his show remotely amid the pandemic. “This was not the sort of thing I ever imagined would happen in this country, in my lifetime.”
“The President of the United States — because he is too angry, too insecure and too incompetent to deal with the fact that he lost an election, a fair election, an election that was no different than any other election, an election he lost by seven million votes and 70 electors — turns an angry mob against members of Congress and his own Vice President. Not to mention endangering the Capitol police, those blue lives he claims matter so much to him.”
“These people are not Americans. There is no ‘We the people,’ there is ‘Me the people’ and that’s it,” Kimmel said, referring to GOP Senators Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz, who he called out specifically. “The wildest part is these MAGA marchers think Donald Trump cares about them. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about your wife, or your job or your healthcare or the air you breathe, the water you drink. He cares about himself. And only about himself. Unless you were pushing a lawnmower, he wouldn’t let you into his golf club. He’d roll his limo right over you to get a Chik-Fil-A sandwich.”
“I think it’s important, as the first draft of history is being written and as we’re all processing what we witnessed today, to be as plainspoken and clear-eyed as possible,” Meyers said during his live episode of “Late Night”. “What we saw today was a violent insurgency, an attempt to overthrow the legitimately elected government of the united States and it was incited, directed, and encouraged by the present, Donald Trump and more than a few members of the Republican party and right-wing media.”
“As we were all watching these stunning scenes of violence and sedition, of insurrection against our democracy, anxiously hoping for a restoration of calm and order, the President of the United States told the traitors and the mob, ‘We love you, you’re very special. I know how you feel.’ And he does. He knows how they feel because he’s spent four years telling them in great and odious detail how they should feel,” Meyers continued. “So we can be shocked but we can’t be surprised. The president wanted this. He directed it, supported it, he incited it, and encouraged it.”
“Pluralistic democracy is fragile and precious and it requires a vigilant stewardship and protection and anyone not willing to forward that project with the fullness of their effort must be shamed and disgraced and removed from office. And that must start immediately with Donald Trump,” Meyers concluded his powerful opening oration. “We are going to try our best tonight to process what happened and I promise, I promise, if you come back tomorrow we will have jokes.”
The riots occurred following a rally held by Trump in which he claimed the 2020 presidential election had been stolen, and that he was the rightful winner — despite no evidence of any kind to substantiate his repeated and baseless claims.
Thousands took to the Capitol, storming barricades and confronting the police while lawmakers, including Vice President Mike Pence, were gathered inside to count the Electoral College votes certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s win.
Things quickly turned violent as rioters made their way inside the chamber, breaking windows, occupying senators’ offices. One woman was subsequently shot and died, per CBS News, and many others were injured. The National Guard was called to protect the Capitol and D.C. was put under curfew. Eventually, Congress reconvened for the Electoral vote count by 8 p.m. ET.
MORE FROM ET: