Stephen Colbert shared his own criticisms of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s performance at Wednesday’s congressional hearing during his Late Show monologue. But he did not, like Fox News host Chris Wallace, think that it was a “disaster for the Democrats and a disaster for the reputation of Robert Mueller.”
Wallace said as much on Fox during the first break in Mueller’s testimony Wednesday morning, and President Trump promptly tweeted the quote to make himself look better. “You said that at 10:07 this morning, an hour and a half into a six hour series of hearings,” Colbert told Wallace when he sat down next to him for an interview. “So is Fox News’ motto, ‘We report and decide before the thing’s over?’”
“There was a break in the hearing and we were asked for our reaction,” Wallace replied, a bit testily. “And let me simply say, nothing in your monologue disproved that description.” When Colbert told him he didn’t understand how it was a “disaster,” Wallace shot back, “Yes you do.”
“No, I promise you I you don’t,” Colbert said. “It seemed like a well-organized and choreographed recitation of the moral, ethical and criminal failings of the president of the United States.”
Wallace responded by saying that “the whole reason that the Democrats, the House majority, the Democratic majority in the House, wanted to have this hearing is, they kept saying, the quote was, ‘People aren’t going to read the book, they’ll watch the movie.’ Well, the movie was a snore.”
“I thought that it was sad, actually,” Wallace added. “Because he’s a very distinguished man. He has had great career in law enforcement, and at least on the basis of today, he seemed like a fellow who didn’t quite know what he was about, what was being said. He had trouble finding the various congressmen, where they were on the podium, let alone answering their questions.”
Colbert, in turn, argued that Wallace was simply giving “performance notes” and “they only mean something because we’ve become desensitized to the shock of the information that they were laying out for us.”
Wallace admitted that he found the content of Mueller’s report “shocking,” but said, “I don’t think they’re more shocking today than they were when the report was released in March.”
The Fox News host then accused Colbert of viewing the hearing through his own “anti-Trump” and “tribal” lens.
“I’m in the ‘don’t lie to prosecutors tribe, that’s the tribe I’m in,” Colbert said. “I’m in the ‘do not welcome the help of a foreign country to win our election’ tribe. Those are my tribes. What tribe are you in?”
Wallace insisted that he is in the “journalist tribe,” citing his recent tough interview with Trump administration official Stephen Miller as evidence of his objectivity.
“You say, well these are performance, theater-critic notes,” Wallace told the host. “The fact is, that’s what this is all about. If all you cared about was the report, the report was there in black and white two months ago. The whole reason that they had the hearing was to breathe life into the report. That’s what Jerry Nadler, the chairman, said. They didn’t breathe life into the report today.”