Still reeling from the horrific shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, which claimed the lives of 49 people and left 53 injured, Stephen Colbert and Bill O'Reilly discussed the proper response on CBS's The Late Show. Specifically, the pair talked about Trump and Clinton's response to the tragic event. The relatively terse exchange was frank about how campaigns and candidates are forced to simultaneously politicize tragic events for the cameras while at the same time craft concrete policy proposals.
Colbert and O'Reilly referenced a specific one of Trump's tweets about the Pulse shooting, in which the former reality television show star accepted the accolades of his supporters for how he has been "right" about "radical Islamic terrorism" — "I don't want congrats, [sic] I want toughness & vigilance. We must be smart!"
Colbert asked O'Reilly what the Fox News pundit and host of The O'Reilly Factor thought of Trump's tweet. He matter-of-factly said, "It's a political response," and basically shrugged it off as the necessary cost of doing business in 2016:
Trump's betting that the country now wants a real avenger. That's what he's betting. Mrs. Clinton right now is very tied into the Obama legacy right now, cause she needs him right now, to campaign. So it is political advantage to Trump for this one, if that's what we're talking about.
While O'Reilly is arguing that the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has the edge over the presumptive Democratic nominee, Colbert sees Trump's behavior as aligning more closely with that of a showman and less a politician. "That's not political behavior, that's grandstanding," Colbert said. To that, O'Reilly said outright that Trump was "using the terrorism issue to bolster his popularity."
The conservative anchor and his longtime comedic foil have come spoken before, but not with such a level of frankness about how political sausage really gets made as the aftermath of another tragic, senseless act of mass destruction makes its way through yet another community.
But for some viewers hungry for substantive policy change, the matter-of-fact way that these two men discuss the very real optics this tragedy provides politicians may leave a bad taste in their mouths. Regardless of the perpetrator's motivations, our country needs to take a hard look at who can be allowed to purchase deadly weapons, and why they'd want to in the first place.