Colbert Hypes Abortion, Explicit Material In Schools, And The 1619 Project

News & Politics

CBS The Late Show host Stephen Colbert was in full activist mode for his Wednesday show as he attacked Mehmet Oz on abortion and Tudor Dixon on sexually explicit material in school libraries. For good measure, he also opened the floor to The 1619 Project’s Nikole Hannah-Jones to attack conservatives generally.

Oz was first Colbert’s first target, “Dr. Oz has had his problems running for Senate in Pennsylvania. For one thing, he lives in New Jersey. Also, he came out super anti-choice in the primary, and when asked about that last night, he accidentally said what he meant.”

Colbert then played a clip of Oz at the debate proclaiming, “I don’t want the federal government involved with that at all. I want women, doctors, local political leaders—”  

After the clip, Colbert played The Price is Right fail horn and declared, “Oh, so close! No one—no one– should have to discuss health care with their local political leaders.”

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That Colbert, and the rest of the media, keep trying to make media keep trying to make the standard GOP-federalism argument into a gaffe says more about them than it does about Oz. Colbert would continue to reveal more about himself as he shifted to the Michigan gubernatorial race.

He played a video of Dixon arguing that “pornographic” material should not be included in school libraries. That seemingly obvious point was flippantly dismissed by Colbert, “Ah, yes, childhood. We all have happy memories of bedtime, when you’d get in your PJs, grab a glass of water, head on down to the bus stop for a bedtime story from a drifter named ‘Shambles.’”

He then played another clip of Dixon talking about “this guy she totally made up.” This second video included Dixon relaying the story of a father finding “content in my school library describing how to have sex to my son. I went to the Democrats, and I said, ‘I cannot believe this is in there.’” 

Democrats could be in the state or this man’s local school district, but Colbert thought otherwise as he initiated a satirical phone call with Chuck Schumer’s office.

A third clip of Dixon showed her decrying “What these parents are talking about are not textbooks that will help children learn about themselves. These are books that are describing to children how to have sex.”

Again, Colbert dismissed the idea, “She’s right. We looked it up, and there are a lot of classic children’s books teaching kids about doin’ it. There’s Where the Wild Things BoneIf You Give a Mouse Some Nookie, and Green Eggs and Butt Stuff.”  

Later in the show, Colbert welcomed Hannah-Jones to discuss her work. The conversation started out well enough with history lessons on slavery and Jamestown, but Colbert then asked, “It seems like that’s an important thing to know about your country… What’s your theory on why there has been such a strong backlash in some parts of the country? 

It was never the history of Jamestown that critics focused on, it was her portrayal of the Founders and the Revolution, but Hannah-Jones nevertheless replied, “conservatives have really understood… if you want to win politically, scaring people into thinking that their children are learning a history that’s teaching them that they’re the oppressor, that you can’t have heroes if they’re white, I think has been a very effective propaganda campaign.”

She concluded by absurdly claiming curriculum setting and book banning are the same thing, “But I think it should go without saying that regardless of how anyone feels about The 1619 Project and trust me most of the people trying to ban it have never read it. It’s very clear– that no matter how you feel about it, a free society doesn’t ban books. A free society does not do that.”

And a comedy show should be funny, but here we are.

These segments were sponsored by Progressive.

Here is a transcript for the October 26 show:

CBS The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

10/26/2022

11:40 PM ET

STEPHEN COLBERT: Dr. Oz has had his problems running for Senate in Pennsylvania. For one thing, he lives in New Jersey. Also, he came out super anti-choice in the primary, and when asked about that last night, he accidentally said what he meant. 

Here’s who Oz thinks should be involved in making medical decisions for women.

MEHMET OZ: As a physician, I’ve been in the room when there’s some difficult conversations happening. I don’t want the federal government involved with that at all. I want women, doctors, local political leaders– 

COLBERT: Oh, so close! [The Price is Right fail horn]. No one—no one– should have to discuss health care with their local political leaders, especially if you live in one of those really small towns where the local mayor is a dog: ”Making this decision was ruff, but I believe life begins at– squirrel!”

11:42 PM ET

COLBERT: Yesterday there was also a debate night for Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and her opponent, Kirkland brand Gretchen Whitmer, Tudor Dixon. Dixon is another anti-choice MAGA Republican. Well, turns out, that’s very unpopular in Michigan, so she’s focused her campaign on another issue entirely, and it came up again last night 

TUDOR DIXON: What I’ve heard from parents across the state is inappropriate content in school libraries. If you have material in your school that is something that you can’t read to a child at a bus stop because you would be arrested because it is pornographic, then it should not be in our classrooms. 

COLBERT: Ah, yes, childhood. We all have happy memories of bedtime, when you’d get in your PJs, grab a glass of water, head on down to the bus stop for a bedtime story from a drifter named “Shambles.” 

He doesn’t just do the voices; he hears them. And Tudor– sure, happy memories. Happy memories. Dixon’s not the only one worried about this issue. So is this guy she totally made up. 

DIXON: I had a gentleman come up to me just a few nights ago, and he said, “I found content in my school library describing how to have sex to my son. I went to the Democrats, and I said, “I cannot believe this is in there.” 

COLBERT: Okay. Fine. “That happened.” But even if it did, if someone found a book they didn’t like at a school library, why would they go to the Democrats? That’s like saying, “Excuse me, is this Chuck Schumer’s office? I didn’t like the finale of House of the Dragon. Also, this natural peanut butter is way too oily when it’s in the cupboard but too hard when it’s in the fridge. I’m voting Republican! Good day, sir! I said good day!” 

Then, for reasons all her own, Dixon continued.

DIXON: What these parents are talking about are not textbooks that will help children learn about themselves. These are books that are describing to children how to have sex. 

COLBERT: She’s right. We looked it up, and there are a lot of classic children’s books teaching kids about doin’ it. There’s Where the Wild Things BoneIf You Give a Mouse Some Nookie, and Green Eggs and Butt Stuff

There’s one– oh! Oh! Would you? Could you? 

LOUIS CATO: Oh, god.

COLBERT: Would you, could you, in a box?

12:30 AM ET

COLBERT: It seems like that’s an important thing to know—

NIKOLE HANNAH-JONES: It is.

COLBERT: –about your country. And yet 14 states, 14 states of the United States, have attempted to ban or banned The 1619 Project from being taught in public schools. What’s your theory on why there has been such a strong backlash in some parts of the country? 

HANNAH-JONES: I think we are in, obviously, a deeply polarized society and that conservatives have really understood the oldest divide in America is the race—is the race divide and so if you want to stoke division, if you want to win politically, scaring people into thinking that their children are learning a history that’s teaching them that they’re the oppressor, that you can’t have heroes if they’re white, I think has been a very effective propaganda campaign. 

But I think it should go without saying that regardless of how anyone feels about The 1619 Project and trust me most of the people trying to ban it have never read it. It’s very clear– that no matter how you feel about it, a free society doesn’t ban books. A free society does not do that.

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