Stephen Colbert has spent a lot of time going after Fox News over the years, but it’s far more rare that he takes aim at CNN or MSNBC.
But that’s what he did Thursday night after hosts on those networks focused more on the optics of former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s hearing this week than on the substance of his testimony.
“At the hearings, Mueller confirmed that the president of the United States was not ‘totally exonerated,’” as Trump has repeatedly claimed, the host explained. “Mueller also agreed that Trump obstructed the investigation multiple times, Russia tampered with the election in Trump’s favor. And that the president welcomed that help, lied about welcoming it and encouraged others to lie about it.”
“In short: BORING!” the Late Show host added. “I assume it must have been because the critics have decided. And they’re panning Mueller’s performance.”
Colbert was referring not only to headlines from The New York Times and the AP—”and he’s only got 35 percent on Rotten Tomatoes,” he joked—but also cable news anchors like CNN’s Jake Tapper and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow for calling Mueller less than “sharp” and saying he “persistently seemed old.”
“And if we learned one thing from watching movies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, it’s that we should always ignore the dire warnings of the old guy,” the host said.
“This is a critical moment in our democracy,” Colbert continued. “So of course our faithful journalists are focused on what really matters. And that’s ratings, baby!”
This time, he was referring to CNN’s media analyst Brian Stelter, who called the Mueller hearing a “dud” because he didn’t draw as many viewers as James Comey or Brett Kavanaugh. “You can’t determine the value of Mueller’s testimony by ratings!” Colbert replied. “If that were the case, then Avengers: Endgame would be president of the United States!”