UPDATED: Stephen Colbert outraged online followers Thursday with an offensive-sounding and out-of-context tweet posted on The Colbert Report account.
The message posted March 27 at 4:02 p.m. (screen shot below) mocked Asian stereotypes. Offended readers slammed the message and spawned a #CancelColbert hashtag. The tweet was later deleted.
For nearly a decade, Colbert has used an ultra-conservative persona while hosting the Comedy Central series. The format allows him to say some pretty outrageous things because, after all, it’s just a character. But readers thought this tweet went too far:
The tweet was a joke from Wednesday night’s show. But during the episode segment, the line was in a clear context — Colbert was mocking Redskins owner Dan Snyder for responding to complaints about his team name by announcing a foundation to help Native Americans. Stripped of that context on Twitter, the line seemed to strike some as over the top.
Here’s Comedy Central’s video for the segment. The relevant part starts around 5:30 (note: the video has been having playback issues and the network is working on it):
“I do the show in character — and he’s an idiot,” Colbert once said during an interview. “He’s willfully ignorant of everything we’re going to talk about. Disabuse me of my ignorance. Don’t let me put words in your mouth.”
UPDATE: Colbert and The Colbert Report responded to the controversy. Both emphasized a distinction between the performer’s home account and the show account, which the performer does not directly control, but does use quotes from his show:
Comedy Central had no immediate comment.
Some of the early reaction on Twitter: