After receiving backlash for what some deemed a “homophobic” joke directed at Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, Stephen Colbert responded on Wednesday’s Late Show by not backing down, but also acknowledging he could’ve used different language.
“Welcome to The Late Show,” he opened, according to a transcript provided by CBS. “I’m your host, Stephen Colbert. Still? I am still the host? I’m still the host!!”
The comedian soon transitioned to a more serious tone, defending his right to insult the president Monday night when he quipped, “The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster.” While many on social media have rallied behind the hashtag #FireColbert over the perceived slur, Colbert says it was purely in response to Trump insulting CBS News reporter John Dickerson.
“Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine,” Colbert continued. “So at the end of that monologue I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight.”
“So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” concluded Colbert. “I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but I just want to say for the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love for another person, in their own way, is to me, an American hero. I think we can all agree on that. I hope even the president and I can agree on that. Nothing else but that.”
The Late Show airs on CBS at 11:35 p.m. ET.