The latest inductee to the Internet Outrage Cycle Hall of Fame is Stephen Colbert, after a joke on Tuesday night's episode of The Late Show landed the comedian with a mess of Twitter critics — plus calls for his dismissal as host. Those who are not up-to-date on late-night TV might be wondering what Colbert said to make people want him fired.
The joke admittedly falls a bit more schoolyard than most on talk shows frequently watched by dads everywhere. While first framed as a defense of Face the Nation host John Dickerson, Colbert's colleague at CBS, his monologue quickly devolves into some less-than-palatable trash talk for most PG audiences. Addressing Trump directly, Colbert mocked his presidency as "Disgrace the Nation," called him " the glutton with the button" and the "presi-dunce," and then launched into some old-school putdowns like "you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine," "You have more people marching against you than cancer," and "You talk like a sign language gorilla who got hit in the head."
What got audiences angry came next, when he moved in a decidedly more sexual, controversial direction:
Along with the flurry of viewers calling for CBS to #FireColbert for the joke come a few different approaches to it. The initial responses to his monologue ranged from pearl-clutching over such aggressive words thrown at the president to cries of hypocrisy over that same pearl-clutching to concerns over the vulgarity being used on a program that's not necessarily rated M-for-mature.
Along with that struggle of TV morals, there were also some pretty fair arguments that the joke made a homophobic low-hanging punchline out of the idea of Trump performing oral sex on another dude. While some could argue the punchline was less about laughing at Trump's hypothetical love of other dudes and more about his frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, illustrating their apparent connection or chumminess through their sexuality has been a go-to method for critics. And it has mixed results.
On one hand, it's easy to think "Come on, it's not an emasculating or degrading thing if all parties are consenting and having a good time," making it easier to believe that the only ones offended would be those who think kissing someone of the same gender is a bad thing. On the other hand, while the safety and well-being of LGBT people remains uncertain on a national and international scale, it's very possible that this kind of joke remains too imprecise to be considered "punching up" at Trump.