Satirical news program "The Colbert Report" came under fire Thursday night from Twitter watchdogs who accused the show of racism following a tweet from the show's official Comedy Central-run account.
The tweet, since deleted, went out to more than 1 million followers and read: "I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever."
#CancelColbert quickly became a trending hashtag on the social media platform as many users decried the use of such language and demanded the show be removed from air.
"#CancelColbert because white liberals are just as complicit in making Asian Americans into punchlines and we aren't amused," tweeted Suey Park (@sueypark).
Amy D. Cubbage (@amydcubbage) wrote: "I'm sick of my daughter's ethnicity being a punchline. It sure wasn't funny for her when she was mocked in kindergarten. #CancelColbert"
Delivered out of context the tweet from @ColbertReport does indeed appear racist. The quote, however, came from a segment aired during Wednesday's episode in which host Colbert was discussing Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. Rather than change the name of the football team in response to intense criticism that it promotes racism, Snyder instead started the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to "provide resources that offer genuine opportunities for Tribal communities." Colbert mocked it as an attempt at positive PR for the NFL team.
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The full segment can be viewed below with the Redskins comments beginning at around 4:50.
As #CancelColbert gained momentum, Colbert and Comedy Central weighed in on the controversy with Colbert humorously distancing himself from the original tweet and Comedy Central clarifying that @ColbertReport "is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show."
Colbert was first to respond with the following via his personal Twitter account @StephenAtHome:
#CancelColbert - I agree! Just saw @ColbertReport tweet. I share your rage. Who is that, though? I'm @StephenAtHome http://t.co/e0Pqz7U7i9 — Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) March 28, 2014
Soon after, Comedy Central joined the melee:
For the record @ColbertReport is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show. He is @StephenAtHome Sorry for the confusion #CancelColbert — The Colbert Report (@ColbertReport) March 28, 2014
The above missive was quickly followed by:
This is a Comedy Central account, with no oversight from Stephen/show. Here is quoted line in context http://t.co/UFnaFfOSpn #cancelcolbert — The Colbert Report (@ColbertReport) March 28, 2014
By Friday morning the tide was turning as the #CancelColbert hashtag was being used to show support for Colbert rather than a point of protest. Many Twitter users found humor in the digital brouhaha with some even questioning whether or not the hashtag was actually part of Colbert's satirical shtick:
#CancelColbert is really more Colbert satire, right? — Ignacio Carrion (@igcarr) March 28, 2014
Others attempted to highlight the satire and the original point Colbert was trying to make, or were simply baffled by the outrage:
Let me be clear. All the #CancelColbert critics are exactly right! And that, I believe, was exactly his point. Racism is wrong. Period. — Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) March 28, 2014
Dear rest of the world, I swear the face of Asian American activism does not just look like #CancelColbert and that a lot of us know satire. — Kristina Wong (@mskristinawong) March 28, 2014
This #CancelColbert thing serious? Can people really not understand parody/satire when race is involved? How 'bout this? #CancelStupidity. — Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) March 28, 2014
The #cancelcolbert people know his on-camera persona is a satirical representation of the old, white, conservative talking heads, right? — Neliza Drew (@nelizadrew) March 28, 2014
Twitter user @MarkBLP from Pennsylvania took the humor angle a step further and wondered if the whole thing was started by Colbert's Comedy Central alum and former "Daily Show" regular John Oliver:
Is #CancelColbert just an elaborate troll by John Oliver to promote his upcoming HBO show? — Mark (@MarkBLP) March 28, 2014