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“Anti-Religiosity” Late Night Hosts Respond to Being Blamed for Donald Trump Stoking Hate and Violence

colbert trump response late night trevor noah

Following the last week of violence, Donald Trump continues to blame the media, calling journalists and news outlets the “enemy” of the American people. That’s a sentiment that was supported by Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday in a press briefing argument with CNN’s Jim Acosta. When asked to specifically name the outlets the president feels are the enemy, she could only respond that they “know who they are.”

Kellyanne Conway didn’t have a problem getting more specific, though, and during an appearance on Fox & Friends, she blamed the shooting at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue on … late-night comedians.

“The anti-religiosity in this country that is somehow in vogue and funny to make fun of anybody of faith, to constantly be making fun of people that express religion—the late-night comedians, the unfunny people on TV shows—it’s always anti-religious,” she said.

For the most part, those “anti-religiosity” comedians ignored Conway’s weird statement, which is really the best thing to do with Conway’s words in any situation. Trevor Noah, though, sent out this tweet:

During his show last night, Noah didn’t respond to Conway, but he did address Trump and his insistence that the media is the enemy of the people.

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to draw the lines between these people and the rhetoric that is being parroted by the president of the United States,” he said.

“We have to be careful not to jump and say, ‘You made this happen, Donald Trump,’ but we can also live in a space where we say as humans, ‘But as President, we hope that you would try to avoid or dissuade people from doing the same things,'” he went on., “but if anything, it seems like his message post-that has been ‘This is not my fault; I have nothing to do with any of this, and if anything, the media is to blame because they’re the enemy of the people. They report certain stories that I don’t believe are true, and so they’re at fault.'”

By constantly blaming the media, while also claiming that he’s looking for unity, Trump’s message is, essentially, “We need to come together, under my rules.” As Noah points out, that’s not unity, it’s domination.

In another short clip, he asks the straightforward question we just can’t get anyone to answer: “If you know that a phrase has been used to encourage people to commit acts of violence, why would you not stop using that phrase?” Even if—giving Trump the unearned benefit of the doubt for a second—that wasn’t his intention, once violence has been perpetrated against people you have repeatedly declared to be the “enemy of the people,” why would you not just choose different words in the future? (We know why.)

Trevor Noah wasn’t the only late night host to address Trump and his blaming of the media for recent acts of violence. Jimmy Kimmel summed up Trump’s message to the media as “If you guys stop saying mean things about me, I’ll stop inciting angry lunatics to kill you, deal?”

Actual longtime Sunday School teacher Stephen Colbert also weighed in. He focused on the rally Trump didn’t cancel just hours after the shooting in Pittsburgh. During that rally, he lied about 9/11 and also said that he almost canceled his appearance because the wind and rain messed up his hair. That may have been a joke, but it was a hell of a poor one given the circumstances. Also …

Colbert also called out Trump’s rhetoric and how it clearly influenced the violent attacks against people Trump has declared to be “enemies of the people.”

Seth Meyers chose simply to talk about his love of Pittsburgh and his family’s ties to the city. Shockingly to no one but Kellyanne Conway, he didn’t even include any “anti-religiosity” sentiments in his message!

Meanwhile, Trump is once again (he’s used this argument before) trying to use semantics to shirk any responsibility.

Except Trump’s idea of “fake” news is any outlet that even mildly criticizes him or conservatives politics—or any news he doesn’t like. The phrase itself is meant to give free license to his followers to hate any outlet that says something they disagree with, and since he also stokes the belief that the “mainstream media” is unfairly liberally biased, the “fake news media” becomes code for the overwhelming majority of the media, and he knows that.

CNN, the NYT, and so many others he would put in the “fake” category are some of the most legitimate news sources out there. I hate a lot of their op-ed departments, and sometimes they make mistakes—as do all outlets (which they then correct and retract as needed)—but they are not “fake” just because Trump says so, and no one has to use his qualifier when it is so blatantly false.

(image: YouTube)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.