Stephen Colbert spent nearly a decade on The Colbert Report playing a satirical character based largely on Bill O’Reilly, so it’s no surprise he had plenty to say about the O’Reilly Factor host’s ouster from Fox News on Wednesday in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.
In his Late Show monologue, Colbert initially struck a conciliatory tone. “Bill and I did not see eye to eye on … anything,” he said. “But he’s been a guest on this show and I take no pleasure in his downfall, okay? I’m not going to sit here and publicly gloat.”
Colbert then asked the cameraman to pan away from him, freeing him to gloat off-screen while the audience roared in approval.
He went on to note that despite the allegations against O’Reilly — which go back years and which O’Reilly has steadfastly denied — Fox News still praised O’Reilly’s ratings legacy in a staff memo. “By ratings standards, Bill O’Reilly is one of the most accomplished TV personalities in the history of cable news,” the memo said.
Colbert agreed, to a point: “By ratings standards, he is. By moral standards, he was a self-righteous landfill of angry garbage.”
But the Late Show host also offered an opposing viewpoint, from none other than his old alter ego, “conservative pundit Stephen Colbert.”
Reprising his Colbert Report persona (an unabashed O’Reilly fan), he scolded the nation, “Shame on you. You failed Bill O’Reilly. You didn’t deserve this great man. All he ever did was have your back — and if you’re a woman, you know, have a go at the front too.”
The Late Show airs weeknights at 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS.