For some time now, we have been hearing a lot about the grave importance of securing the Capitol, the center of our democracy, the seat of American power. So it was a little odd to find out that the other night, a film crew and several comedians from Stephen Colbert’s “Late Show” were arrested after ignoring and evading security inside the Longworth building in the Capitol complex.
Apparently, after having been kicked out of a hearing for lack of credentials, the crew of seven just wandered off and began pounding on the doors of Republican members and yelling, all while filming themselves. The good news is that unlike what happens in our big blue cities, these seven hooligans were arrested (though immediately released); the bad news is that the incident once again displays the abject hypocrisy of the American media.
Let us imagine, just for a moment, that it was Joe Rogan’s crew that had been nabbed making a menacing ruckus outside Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s office with no required supervision or pass. First of all, they’d probably still be in jail, lucky to get a phone call and a stale cheese sandwich. Second, Rogan would have been dragged over the coals, his advertisers pressured to renounce him, and every haircut on lefty cable news would be wearing a very stern glare indeed. Put simply, there would be consequences.
But you see, Stephen Colbert is one of the good guys — he’s against Trump — so when his crew causes a scene at our most holy temple of democracy, it’s just playful hijinks: “first-degree puppetry” was the host’s smug quip. Actually, they were charged with “unlawful entry to the Capitol.” Wait a minute — that sounds familiar. Aren’t there a bunch of people in jail for that right now?
The Capitol Police who responded might not have known that this was a group of very important and privileged TV people; they might have thought something more nefarious was happening. But see, that doesn’t matter, wasting the time of those cops and making them worry a confrontation was going to happen is a price worth paying for Triumph the Insult Comic Dog’s hot takes on the Capitol riot. It might be the last best chance to sway public opinion and must be at least as compelling as the hearings themselves.
This was no accident — according to authorities this troupe of buffoons was directly told to leave the Capitol and refused to do so. Why did they do this? Because they knew full well that the rules don’t apply to them. And they were absolutely right. They got their slap on the wrist, the media were mainly silent, and they are back to cranking out cringe for their show’s dwindling audience.
In the grand scheme of things, this flaunting of the rules and breaking of the law by Colbert’s seven intellectual dwarves is not a huge deal. But having said that, one issue the Jan. 6 committee thus far has had no interest in is the security failures on that awful day. Maybe if seven people with cameras and dog puppets can just kind of get lost in the Capitol, there is reason to see if protocols need to be beefed up.
Meanwhile, it’s sad that we have to live with this. It’s sad that two sets of rules exist, one for Colbert, another for Rogan, one for the left and one for the right. But worse than that, worse than the hypocrisy, and more maddening than sad, is that these people know they will get away with it. Every. Single. Time. And until that changes, nothing else will.
David Marcus is a Brooklyn-based columnist and author of “Charade: The Covid Lies That Crushed a Nation.”