John Oliver is on hiatus. Samantha Bee has the night off. Trevor Noah and Larry Wilmore are taking a break before next week’s GOP convention. So on the Monday night after last week’s sniper attack on Dallas police officers, it was left to Seth Meyers to tackle the story for all of late-night television.
After Stephen Colbert took a pass on delving into the events in Dallas, along with the police killings of black civilians that prompted the Black Lives Matter protests at which they took place, Meyers delivered a nearly 10-minute-long piece that took a “closer look” at how certain politicians responded to the killing of five police officers and the wounding of seven others by a lone black nationalist gunman.
While Meyers praised some voices in the public space for proving that you can both “grieve for police officers and advocate for police reform,” he said that “unfortunately others looked at the situation and asked, ‘How can we make things worse?’”
Among Meyers’ targets were the New York Post, which led its coverage the next day with “CIVIL WAR” on the front page, and Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, who went straight to blaming President Obama for “dividing” the country with his rhetoric.
But, the host said, there was “no worse” response than that of former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who, “in the most galling and offensive way possible,” told Black Lives Matter protesters to shift their focus away from cops and towards inner-city gangs. “First of all, don’t ever start a sentence with, ‘If I were a black father,’” Meyers told Giuliani. “If you are a black father, you don’t need to say it and if you aren’t, you should probably just shut the fuck up.”
Even worse than that was when Giuliani labeled Black Lives Matter “racist” and said people would say the same about him if he started a “White Lives Matter” group. “Yeah, we’d say it’s racist,” Meyers admitted. “But more importantly, it’s redundant. Because everything in our culture and our country already screams ‘white lives matter.’” As an example, he pointed out that even our most popular sitcom with an all-black cast is called black-ish.
Arguing that people like Giuliani need to stop reading “Black Lives Matter” with the word “only” in the middle of it and instead recognize that it means “Black Lives Matter, too,” Meyers moved on to praise conservatives like Paul Ryan and Newt Gingrich for acknowledging what white people don’t understand about being black in America.
“This is what gives us hope,” Meyers said. “Because we need direct action in the streets. We need to recognize systemic and institutional racism. We need reform and conciliation. But we also need people who have disagreements to see things from each other’s point of view.”
It may not have been the funniest piece Meyers and his show ever put together, but it was an immensely important message. And on late-night TV tonight, he was the only one saying it.