On Thursday’s edition of Late Night (airing early Friday), host Seth Meyers trashed Senator Tom Cotton’s op-ed in The New York Times calling for President Trump to invoke the Insurrection Act in an effort to put a stop to the nationwide looting and rioting. In addition, Meyers repeatedly argued that the United States has become an “authoritarian regime.”
Before discussing the piece, the left-wing comedian accused New York City police officers of “escalating encounters with peaceful protesters and inflicting abuse with impunity.” He also compared the police to the Spider-Man villain Green Goblin. Meyers proclaimed that “the scenes we’ve all watched of police violently attacking protesters are more typical of authoritarian regimes than liberal democracies.”
Continuing to sound the alarm about America becoming an authoritarian country, Meyers reluctantly declared that “the worst part of this is that every stoner who cornered me at a party in college was right” because “we are living in a police state.” He then slammed the attack on “peaceful protesters exercising their constitutional rights just so the President can have a photo op” as a “heinous crime against the Constitution.”
After explaining that authoritarian regimes “defend violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters by spreading lies and disinformation,” Meyers expressed dismay that “the Republican Party is, in most cases, either idly standing by or openly embracing calls for military violence towards American citizens.” Meyers shifted to Cotton’s op-ed, describing it as “chilling” and filled with “lie[s]....about the demonstrations.”
Speaking about Cotton and Republicans, Meyers insisted without any evidence: “These guys want to tear up the Constitution so badly because they want to be ruled by a dictator so badly.” According to Meyers, “nothing would make them happier than to throw a party celebrating the end of democracy and load a confetti cannon with scraps from the Bill of Rights.”
As for The Times, Meyers attacked them for running the op-ed in the first place: “What are you guys doing? Our democracy is on a precipice and you decided to give it a push?” The NBC host informed his fellow snowflakes at The Times that “you’re not legally obligated to run fascist calls for military occupation in your newspaper.”
Throughout his rant, Meyers never mentioned once the destructive rioting and looting that would justify Cotton’s call for the Insurrection Act in the first place. Instead, Meyers insinuated that “[t]he President and the police establishment are lashing out at nationwide protests because those protests threaten a racist, unjust system that serves the powerful.” Ignorance, willful or not, is bliss.
A transcript of the relevant portion of Late Night is below. Click “expand” to read more.
NBC's Late Night With Seth Meyers
SETH MEYERS: There’s New York City; where there have been countless videos of police violently escalating encounters with peaceful protesters and inflicting abuse with impunity. On Tuesday, the NYPD trapped thousands of protesters in a dangerous situation on the Manhattan Bridge for hours before letting them enter Brooklyn.
CRAIG MELVIN: In New York City, thousands of protesters trapped on the Manhattan Bridge for hours; police using barricades to prevent them from leaving either side of the bridge, a controversial tactic known as “kettling.”
MEYERS: All right, first of all, nothing that dangerous should have an adorable name like “kettling.” “Kettling” sounds like something Ms. Doubtfire would make up on the spot to trick the kids into thinking she’s British “What are you doing, Ms. Doubtfire? Oh, just some ‘kettling,’ oh, of…a bit…a bit of the old ‘kettling.’” And, yeah, I have run out of modern television shows to watch, so I’ve been watching old movies that seemed normal at the time but in retrospect, are kind of insane. Your husband puts on a wig, and you don’t recognize him? Okay, all right! Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. Second, why the hell are you trapping people on the Manhattan Bridge? Are you cops or the Green Goblin? Again, Green Goblin; madman, access to high-tech weaponry, you can’t kill a teenager in a unitard? Okay, okay! The only time anyone should be trapped for hours on the Manhattan Bridge is when they decide to take a cab home during rush hour. And when that happens, you’re technically not trapped there, you live there. The last time I took a cab across the Manhattan Bridge, I was stuck so long, I started getting mail there. Good rimshot, buddy. Thank you. The scenes we’ve all watched of police violently attacking protesters are more typical of authoritarian regimes than liberal democracies. And of course, some of the most harrowing examples have come from D.C., where we’ve seen military helicopters descend on protests to scare them away, armed guards blocking the Lincoln Memorial, caravans of military vehicles rolling down streets, DEA agents authorized to conduct covert surveillance on protesters, and unidentified law enforcement officers without insignia or name badges, refusing to identify themselves.
GARRETT HAAKE: Today, we’re about 60, maybe, 70 yards further away from the White House than we were yesterday, pushed back from that fence. And part of the story here today is the increasing militarization and federalization of the protest response on Washington, D.C.’s city streets. These men behind me are with the D.C. National Guard. They were brought out here a little bit earlier. They relieved a group who wore no insignia; just federal law enforcement officers who wouldn’t identify themselves, wouldn’t tell me where they were from, what agency they represented.
MEYERS: The worst part of this is that every stoner who cornered me at a party in college was right. We are living in a police state. So, retroactive apologies, Scooch. And of course, the most shocking example in D.C. was the violent attack on peaceful protesters near the White House to make way for the President to participate in his dumb photo op where he walked over to a church and held up a bible that wasn’t his, like a teacher who just found a porno mag in the back of a classroom. “Guys, who is this? Fess up or I’ll have no choice but to conduct an investigation and inspect it myself. You’re better than this, guys. You’re better than this.” Attacking peaceful protesters exercising their constitutional rights just so the President can have a photo op is a heinous crime against the Constitution and as with all authoritarian regimes, they can only get away with it by warping reality and lying about it. Yesterday, the White House tried to claim they hadn’t actually used tear gas, but other chemicals that just happened to cause tears.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY: No tear gas was used, and no rubber bullets were used.
JIM ACOSTA: Chemical agents were used.
MCENANY: So, again, no tear gas was used, no rubber bullets were used. Let me…
ACOSTA: Why are you making that distinction?
MCENANY: Let me…
ACOSTA: Chemical agents were used.
MCENANY: Let me back…
ACOSTA: We talked to an…
ACOSTA: …Episcopal priest who said she was gassed. Others say they were teargassed in that area.
MCENANY: Well, no one was teargassed.
BRIANNA KEILAR: Officials from the administration claimed that they did not use tear gas. All right, well, they used pepper balls and smoke flashbangs; which caused these images that you’re seeing right now. So, all right, if you want to split hairs there, it’s a distinction without a difference, right? Pepper balls and flashbangs share many similar effects of tear gas; including excessive tearing, lachrymation, which CNN’s team on the ground witnessed. They experienced this. You can see the folks here in front of you experiencing it. The President wants a correction from the media that tear gas was not used, but in fact, by his own CDC’s classification, it was tear gas.
MEYERS: If the CDC says it’s tear gas, he’s definitely not going to listen to them. The CDC also says sticking Tide-to-Go pens up your nose won’t cure coronavirus, but I’m almost certain Trump’s at least tried it. “I can tell it’s working because my brain is on fire.” But the lies are not working, and you can tell because even Trump’s Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, is now distancing himself from the photo op, although he’s doing it with one of the most laughable excuses imaginable. Esper, who accompanied Trump to the church after the protesters had been attacked, told NBC News, “I didn’t know where I was going…Esper said he believed they were going to observe the vandalized bathroom in Lafayette Square.” Well, in his defense, anytime you follow Trump anywhere, you probably expect to see a bathroom get destroyed. Oh, even better! You’re getting really good at it. All right, just don’t overstay your welcome. Seriously, you thought you were going to go see a vandalized bathroom? You don’t need to gas protesters for that. Just go to any rest stop on I-95. In fairness to Esper, I can definitely see Trump wanting to take a field trip to see a vandalized bathroom. “The wall said to call this number for a good time. Should we? I mean it feels like we’re living in a bad time. Maybe a good time is exactly what we need to turn this thing around. Should we just call? Use the White House number, I don’t want to use my cell phone minutes.” This is what authoritarian regimes do. They defend violent crackdowns on peaceful protesters by spreading lies and disinformation and yet the Republican Party is, in most cases, either idly standing by or openly embracing calls for military violence towards American citizens. Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton wrote a chilling op-ed for The New York Times called “Send In the troops,” in which he lied repeatedly about the demonstrations and called on the President to invoke a law known as the “Insurrection Act” to send the military into American cities to put down the protests. Cotton wrote, “One thing above all else will restore order to our streets: an overwhelming show of force to disperse, detain and ultimately deter law breakers.” Holy (bleep), dude, did you steal that line from General Hux? These guys want to tear up the Constitution so badly because they want to be ruled by a dictator so badly. Nothing would make them happier than to throw a party celebrating the end of democracy and load a confetti cannon with scraps from the Bill of Rights. But as sinister as this op-ed is, the more shocking thing is that the Times opinion page chose to run it. I mean, what are you guys doing? Our democracy is on a precipice, and you decide to give it a push? I mean, just because it’s a terrible opinion doesn’t mean it deserves to be on the New York Times op-ed page. I mean you wouldn’t want to read “Baby Seals Are Asking For It, Club Away.” A fun joke to tell with no live audience that definitely would have groaned for it. And yet here, the same sound all the time. The Times editorial page editor James Bennett responded to backlash over the op-ed, writing, “Times opinion owes it to our readers to show them counterarguments, particularly those made by people in a position to set policy. We understand that many readers find Senator Cotton’s argument painful, even dangerous. We believe that is one reason it requires public scrutiny and debate.” Wait, so your argument is you had to print a bad column in your newspaper so everyone would know it’s bad? I mean, that logic makes no sense. If you go to a five-star restaurant, the chef doesn’t serve you Arby’s first just to make sure you know it tastes like (bleep). You’re not legally obligated to run fascist calls for military occupation in your newspaper. Tom Cotton’s a Senator. He has plenty of ways to get his opinion out there. C-SPAN; all right, that’s a bad example. But, if your policy is that you’re going to run bad columns full of lies for the sake of hearing counterarguments, then I’m officially requesting that you run my op-ed, “James Bennett’s Favorite Movie of All Time Is ‘Cats.’” I dare you to print it, or are you too afraid of my controversial opinions? The president and the police establishment are lashing out at nationwide protests because those protests threaten a racist, unjust system that serves the powerful. They’re deeply invested in protecting that system because at the core of it is the belief that the people in charge…
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Can do pretty much whatever we want.