Colbert Downplays Bergdahl Outrage, Plays Up Florida Gun 'Wacko'

While Stephen Colbert has no problem harping on any controversy involving the GOP, the liberal comedian and Comedy Central host seems unwilling to confront the Bergdahl prisoner swap controversy on the June 2 edition of The Colbert Report.

Colbert mocked Guantanamo: "We can't release these guys! We were this close to charging them with something!"He cracked that celebrating Bergdahl’s release was “like a pizza party for Hitler's birthday. Was it fun? Yes. Do I regret it? Of course.” But then he joked the liberated Taliban fighters will soon be dead:

COLBERT: So as happy as I am that Sergeant Bergdahl is coming home, it also means five terrorists are now free to roam in a treeless desert patrolled only by our predator drones. Oh-- oh, well, you enjoy that freedom, fellas.

Instead of celebrating this as a “real scandal” like he had with the VA, Colbert chose to spend a mere 2 minutes and 33 seconds of his half hour show describing the controversy. In contrast, he spent 6 minutes and 57 seconds with a video and narration describing Doug Varrieur, a gun-toting resident of Big Pine Key, Florida who insists on practicing his shooting at a self-made gun range at his home, near a popular canal. Florida has a law allowing this. Varrieur's neighbors offer various words like "wacko" to describe him.

“There is nothing illegal about me shooting in my backyard,” he said, “Even if there is a boat and a kid.”

This irrelevant anecdote is clearly meant to discredit gun owners and activists as trigger happy, ignorant and dangerous. Clearly Colbert believes the antics of one misguided gun lover in Florida is more relevant and dangerous to the American people than the release of five high-risk members of the Taliban.

Worse yet, this looks like another too-funny-to-be factual hatchet job. In January, Varrieur told the Miami Herald he thought the state law was too “loose.”    

See transcript below.

06/02/2014
Stephen Colbert
11:33 p.m.
14 seconds

STEPHEN COLBERT: But, Bergdahl’s freedom wasn’t free. You see, Obama negotiated Bergdahl's return for five in exchange for five Taliban detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. He can't release these guys! We were this close to charging them with something.

11:34 p.m.
16 seconds

COLBERT: It is a celebration that is also very troubling. Like a pizza party for Hitler's birthday. Was it fun? Yes. Do I regret it? Of course. So as happy as I am that Sergeant Bergdahl is coming home, it also means five terrorists are now free to roam in a treeless desert patrolled only by our predator drones. Oh-- oh, well, you enjoy that freedom, fellas.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.