Late Show host Stephen Colbert used his monologue Monday to mock the president for temporarily moving to a bunker beneath the White House Friday night, as protests and riots over police brutality and racial injustice continue to rage across the nation.
Outside the White House, more than a dozen service agents were injured by rioters throwing bottles and Molotov cocktails. The nearby historic St. John’s Episcopal Church was set on fire.
“If history has taught us anything, it’s that things always work well for strongmen who retreat to underground bunkers,” Colbert said. He seemed to be alluding to Adolf Hitler’s final days hiding in a bunker near the end of World War II.
Colbert’s joke ignores the fact that the U.S. Secret Service made the call to put the president in the bunker due to the condition of the protests surrounding the White House, according to Fox News. 14 Secret Service members were injured on Sunday by the protests.
Former lead Secret Service agent Dan Bongino, who worked in the presidential detective detail, said that, “the President doesn’t make the call to move to the bunker … the trained professionals of the Secret Service do.”
If the goal of the comedian’s sneering remark was to suggest that Trump is a Hitler-like dictator amid nationwide riots, it’s a far cry from history. Soon after becoming chancellor, Hitler used civil unrest and a fire at the Reichstag (Germany’s parliament) to consolidate his power and crack down on perceived enemies, giving rise to Nazi control of Germany. Trump, on the other hand, has largely taken a hands-off approach (for which he’s also been heavily criticized), leaving it thus far to local governors and mayors to quell the riots in their states and cities.
In 2017, Colbert joked that the only thing Trump’s mouth is good for “is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.” However, more than two years later, Colbert has not been dragged off in the middle of the night by secret police. Colbert was, however, dragged through the media for another reason: the joke was highly homophobic.
Former Secretary of State and failed 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton also seemed to relish the idea that Trump was cowering inside the White House during the riots. She tweeted a photo of the White House lit up with the colors of the rainbow following the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage nationwide, next to a photo of a darkened White House.
A little digging revealed that the photo was a stock image from five years ago, while Obama was president. The image had been photoshopped to look darker. It’s also standard protocol to turn the lights off at 11 p.m.
Those on the Left looking to criticize the president for hiding then took the opposite stance on Monday. Trump walked outside to visit St. John’s Church, shortly after Lafayette Square (the park directly across from the White House) had been cleared of protesters. Media outlets were quick to report that peaceful protestors were forcibly removed using tear gas for the president’s photo-op. That claim was thoroughly debunked by Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, who wrote that:
Every single major media outlet falsely reported that Park Police were unprovoked when they used ‘tear gas’ to clear the area. If any of that were true, it might mark the first time in history that cops without gas masks launched tear gas in an area that the president of the United States easily walked through minutes later.
But criticisms of the photo-op don’t stop there. People didn’t like the way Trump held the bible up, and the image was quickly paired with an image of Hitler holding a bible the same way. But again, there’s another problem with the comparison: the image of Hitler holding the bible was a photoshopped fake, as revealed by Snopes.