Stephen Colbert took a hard pivot during Thursday night’s opening monologue. Instead of continuing to crack jokes about the new Speaker of the House Mike Johnson or Clarence Thomas’ ongoing scandals, the CBS late night host spent five somber, nearly joke-free minutes discussing the recent mass shooting in Lewiston, Maine.
Partway through the segment, Colbert played a clip from Johnson addressing the massacre that left 18 dead and over a dozen injured. “We have a lot of problems, and we’re really, really hopeful and prayerful,” Johnson said in the clip. “Everyone wants this to end, and I’ll leave it there.”
“Why would you leave it there? Is that what produces hope, just leaving it there and walking away from the problem?” Colbert countered. “We’re already capable of prayer ourselves. You’re capable of governing, theoretically. I’m sorry if that sounds like too hard of a job for you. You know who has a really hard job now? The people in Lewiston, Maine.”
Earlier in the segment, Colbert referred to the mass shooting as “unfathomable darkness” and said “there are no words to describe the sickening grief and horror.”
“They have to face this tragedy, and you have to face your responsibilities. I dare anyone in power to show a fraction of the courage of all the families who have faced their tragedies and have faced our failure to change,” Colbert said.
The late night host also denounced arguments that this is either a gun or a mental health issue, saying “There’s no reason it can’t be both” and said that the call for more guns in the wake of these shootings is proof “that some of us are mentally ill.”
“There’s no reason for this to be a partisan issue. Humans are dying. This is a human issue,” Colbert said, encouraging his audience to make this the one issue they vote on.
On Wednesday evening, a man shot and killed 18 victims at a bowling alley and restaurant in Lewiston. A shelter-in-place order was given as authorities searched for the shooter. Forty-year-old Robert Card has been named a suspect in the case and is considered to be armed and dangerous. Card was committed to a mental health facility for two weeks over the summer and once threatened to shoot a National Guard bases.