Even as Rachel Maddow was breathlessly revealing President Donald Trump’s 2005 tax return as if she had a copy of the Pentagon Papers, the MSNBC host was mercilessly mocked, particularly on rival Fox News. The ridicule proceeded nonstop on conservative talk radio as well. But now it looks like the fiasco was too much even for Maddow’s ideological soul mate Stephen Colbert, the host of “The Late Show.” Colbert joined in the pile on against Maddow, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Mimicking Maddow’s rambling, 20-minute prelude to the big reveal that Trump made a lot of money and paid a lot of taxes in 2005, Colbert dressed up like the MSNBC host and went into a riff about a Trump joke that he would be revealing later. The Colbert version, which mercifully lasted just over two minutes, brought in chickens, roads, and Russian oligarchs before, just on the brink of getting to the punch line, he cut to commercial.
Colbert had been struggling in the ratings ever since he took the helm of “The Late Show” from David Letterman. However, with the rise of Donald Trump, the former Comedy Central funnyman enjoyed a healthy rating boost as he ripped into the new president night after night. He attracted enough Trump haters to build up a healthy audience and, perhaps, save his career as a major network late night host.
By going after Maddow. Colbert is clearly trying to expand his audience even further. He has rarely if ever mocked someone on the left. His Comedy Central persona was supposed to be an amped up version of a right wing media talking head, something actual right wingers found to be hard to take. If Colbert can transition to an equal opportunity offender, he might well establish himself as the king of late night for decades.
On the other hand, maybe this performance is a one-time thing. If Colbert goes after too many people on the left, they might not want to be guests on his show. Indeed, he might not get invited to too many cocktail parties and dinners and might get treated as a pariah. But then someone once said that dying is easy, but comedy is hard.