Weeks removed from the pro-Trump siege of the Capitol incited by the ex-president’s baseless delegitimization of Joe Biden’s election, the Republican party remains fractured between it’s more reality-based and full-conspiratorial wings. The new GOP civil war, which pits establishment figures like Mitch McConnell against radical, delusional Q-Anon devotees such as the Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, is “like the first civil war, but this time both sides use the Confederate flag”, Stephen Colbert quipped on Wednesday’s Late Show.
The former president’s backers continued to downplay his role in the Capitol attack this week, as his legal team revealed their defense for his upcoming second impeachment trial. “The crux of their argument is that the president wasn’t a guy inciting an angry mob, he was merely a guy expressing free speech near a mob he happened to make angry,” explained Colbert. Trump’s legal team argued that the ex-president “believed he won” and therefore was within his rights to “express his belief that the election results were suspect”, and that his baseless election fraud claims could not be disproved due to “insufficient evidence”.
In fact, more than 60 courts, many headed by Trump appointees, threw out the claims. “Plus, you can’t prove a negative,” he added. “For instance, you can’t prove the former president isn’t in fact just a giant novelty gummy bear that was cursed with life after rolling in a pile of magic lint.”
The strangest claim, Colbert continued, was that Trump never “intended to interfere with the counting of electoral votes”.
“There are so many ways in which he intended to interfere with the certification,” Colbert countered. “He said Mike Pence could stop it. When Mike Pence didn’t stop it, he said Mike Pence was a coward. And, importantly, he scheduled his riot for the same day as the certification in the same location.”
Colbert offered a non-political translation: “Jennifer, I can’t believe you’re getting married in the same hall, on the same day I’m holding my one-man show ‘Don’t Marry Paul, Jennifer, I Still Love You! the Musical, starring an angry mob who knows where you live.”
“You can tell we’re officially living in Joe Biden’s America, because just one month ago we were fighting for the soul of our nation,” said Samantha Bee of the Capitol riot. “Now, we’re fighting for the soul of GameStop.”
The Full Frontal host recapped the GameStop saga, in which individual investors, loosely united through the Reddit thread Wall Street Bets, short-squeezed hedge funds out of nearly $20bn last month – “it’s the biggest short squeeze since last week, when I tried putting on shorts I washed that were dry-clean only,” Bee joked.
“While Redditors are united in their anger at Wall Street, their motivations vary,” Bee explained. “By and large, they don’t all want to destroy capitalism. They want to disrupt and ultimately profit from it, just as Wall Street has done for decades.
“And just like how I get pissed off at the buffet when someone other than me hogs the crab legs, Wall Street is mad that someone else is manipulating the market,” she added. “Billionaires hate to feel like the fifth guy in an orgy. I mean, you’re getting some, but you’re not special.”
Bee rolled several clips of Wall Street investors aghast at losing their own game. “It is great to watch rich people lose for once,” she said. “But like my parents’ marriage, this will only be fun until it isn’t any more.”
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah checked in on Newsmax, the far-right news channel instrumental in perpetuating Trump’s unsupported election conspiracy theories. Many of those claims hinged on the failures of Dominion Voting Systems, and last month, “Dominion finally told Newsmax, ‘Yo, if you don’t get our name out of your mouth, we’re gonna sue your Channel 349-ass network into oblivion,” Noah said. “And based on what happened yesterday when [MyPillow CEO Mike] Lindell tried to go back on Newsmax, the network is taking that threat seriously.”
Noah played a clip in which Newsmax anchors, attempting to keep Lindell, a stalwart Trump loyalist, from peddling more legal liabilities, cut him off, talked over him and eventually walked off air. “Damn, that defamation lawsuit has Newsmax shook!” Noah said. “See that dude? He peaced out of there like the Chipotle just hit.
“That’s the power of the courts right there,” Noah added. “Because Mike Lindell tried to stage a coup, and Newsmax was fine with inviting him on. But the second he started saying shit that was gonna get them sued, all of a sudden they’re like ‘No, no, my man, overthrowing the government is one thing but, huh huh, a lawsuit? That shit’s serious.”
Newsmax is normally “like Fox News if it stopped taking its meds”, Noah explained. “But at least for a minute, Dominion managed to sue them into behaving like actual journalists.”
And on Late Night, Seth Meyers investigated the dilemma of Marjorie Taylor Greene, a conspiracy theorist who has said school shootings were staged, that Muslims should not serve in Congress, and that Nancy Pelosi should be executed, and whom Democrats are voting to remove from House committees this week.
Nevertheless, Fox News personalist Bill Hemmer attempted to draw a false equivalence between Greene and the Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the Somali American, Muslim member of the House’s progressive wing. “One might be weird and kooky … the other is seen as racist,” Hemmer said.
“Hmm, let’s see, one wants Medicare for All and the other thinks a Jewish space laser starts wildfires,” Meyers said. “Seriously, what’s wrong with you? There’s no equivalence and any attempt to create one is disgusting and racist.”
Greene is “way beyond weird and kooky”, Meyers added. “She’s not a member of the Addams family, unless Uncle Fester believed that a Jewish space laser starts wildfires.”