CBS late-night host Stephen Colbert has excuses for sexual offenders when those offenders help him. The “Late Show” host took the stage on Monday night, backing a sexual predator.
Colbert, who has championed porn star Stormy Daniels, was in defense mode for his friend Les Moonves. Moonves serves as Chairman of the Board, President, and Chief Executive Officer of CBS Corporation. He was also exposed by reporter Ronan Farrow last week as having a decades-long habit of sexually harassing and assaulting women in his employ.
Colbert started his show by quipping that he had not heard of what happened to Moonves. “How was everyone’s weekend? Have a good one? Mine was great. I was down in South Carolina. Really relaxing. No internet. They don’t have it there yet. But I heard there was an article about a CBS chairman and man I hope isn’t watching tonight’s monologue, Les Moonves,” he said.
Imagine if these accusations had been made against President Donald Trump. Would Colbert have started his show in that type of lighthearted way? Or would he have started his show going after the president in a hardcore fashion? I think everyone knows the answer to that.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I do believe in accountability. And not just for politicians you disagree with,” Colbert said. Isn’t that a novel concept?
“Everybody believes in accountability until it’s their guy, and, make no mistake, Les Moonves is my guy. He hired me to sit in this chair. He stood behind this show while we were finding our voice. He gave us the time and the resources to succeed. He has stood by us when people were mad at me. And I like working for him,” he said.
Make no mistake, that introduction was an attempt to soften the audience before Colbert made his half-hearted “I stand with women” speech. But the point was made. Colbert was giving a wink and a nod to Moonves, telling him that he has his back.
“But accountability is meaningless unless it’s for everybody. Whether it’s for the leader of a network or the leader of the free world,” he said, using the Moonves scandal to take a shot at the president.
“Women over the past year have felt empowered to tell their stories in ways they haven’t before, which is an objectively good thing,” he said.
“Because, and it’s strange to have to say this, powerful men taking sexual advantage of relatively powerless employees is wrong. We know it’s wrong now, and we knew it was wrong then,” he said. “And how do we know we knew it was wrong? Because we know these men tried to keep the stories from coming out back then.”
“That said, and this is obviously naive, the revelations and accusations of the past year, just in the entertainment industry alone, have been shocking. To me. To many of the women I know, it has brought a welcome sense of relief that something’s happening,” he said.
“But this weekend some people asked me, probably because I work here, ‘What do you think is going to happen?’ I don’t know. And I don’t know who does know. In a situation like this, I’d normally call Les,” Colbert said. “Over the past year, there’s been a lot of discussion about whether the disappearing of the accused from public life is the right thing to do, and I get there should be levels of response, but I understand why the disappearing happens. There’s a J.F.K. Quote that I like: ‘Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.’ And for so long for women in the workplace, there was no change, no justice for the abused, so we shouldn’t be surprised that when the change comes, it comes radically.”
No attack on Moonves. No demand for justice. No comments calling his boss a sexual deviant as he has done to the president. It was as toothless a monologue as one could give. And why is that?
It appears that Colbert has made a calculated decision to sit on neither side because, if Moonves weathers the storm and stays as the head of CBS, an unlikely scenario as the company’s stocks continue to plummet, Colbert wants to keep his job.
It is simple to take shots at the president. No one from the liberal network is going to fire him for that. But if Moonves manages to stay on as the CEO of CBS, Colbert could take a hit to his pocket if he hit Moonves hard. That is the type of person Colbert is. He is a man of virtue if it does not cost him anything.