If it makes Stephen Colbert feel any better, a lot of people accused satirist Jonathan Swift of being a racist too.
The comic found himself at the center of a Twitter storm on Thursday after his show, “The Colbert Report,” tweeted a joke from Wednesday’s night show–but without the context, the joke came off as racist to many.
During Wednesday’s show, Colbert did a spoof on Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder’s refusal to change the name of the team and his own “offensive” mascot. As part of the joke, he said “I am willing to show the Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Founding for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” The show then tweeted the joke from its official account on Thursday.
But without the context, it gathered steam—and outrage. Within a few hours, the hashtag #CancelColbert was trending. Some of the tweets included “I used to enjoy and respect your work, @ColbertReport. [Expletive] you”; “I used to think Stephen Colbert is funny, but we should not let his racist paternalism fly by. #CancelColbert”; “I can get behind this. “Ironic” oppressive “jokes” aren’t funny & still oppress.”
For its part, the show deleted the tweet and then tweeted on Friday morning “For the record @ColbertReport is not controlled by Stephen Colbert or his show. He is @StephenAtHome Sorry for the confusion #CancelColbert.” The show also tweeted “This is a Comedy Central account, with no oversight from Stephen/show. Here is quoted line in context on.cc.com/1dyeQri #cancelcolbert.”
Colbert threw himself into the fray, tweeting “#Cancel Colbert – I agree! Just saw @Colbert report tweet. I share your rage. Who is that though? I’m @StephenAtHome” and linked to the original segment.