Colbert Hypes Wild Book Claims as Woodward Hails ‘Courageous’ Milley

News & Politics

On CBS’s Late Show Tuesday night, left-wing “comedian” Stephen Colbert eagerly welcomed on The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward on Robert Costa to hawk their new anti-Trump book designed to distract from the massive failures of current President Joe Biden. Accepting all of the wild claims in the book as gospel, Colbert declared that he had to take breaks from reading it in order to “quietly weep” for the country.  

“I am not fully finished with this book,” Colbert admitted to his guests, before explaining: “And it’s not because it’s not a good read….it is really compelling. It’s just that I have to close it every so often to quietly weep.” Turning to Woodward, the host sympathized: “…it is upsetting to read. And I was wondering, was it upsetting to write?”

With Woodward having a long history of gleefully writing books bashing Republican presidents, the journalist melodramatically proclaimed:

Yes. We were – look, the theme here – and it was a discovery for us, that this was a national security crisis. We kind of thought, oh, all of Trump was a domestic problem politically. But in China, Russia, and Iran, they said, “My God, what’s happening here?” So they went on military alert. And if you think about it, the three calamities that can befall the United States. First, a war with a major power, like China. Second is the use of nuclear weapons. And the third would be a question about the legitimacy of the president and the presidency. And we found all of those.

Later in the lengthy discussion, Colbert seemed at least somewhat skeptical of Woodward and Costa’s sourcing: “…you record the interviews? Everything in quotes here, you’ve got dead to rights, right?” Woodward replied: “Yes. We don’t disclose who the sources are. We do them on what’s called ‘deep background.’”

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Colbert countered: “But you have to know, like, [former Attorney General William] Barr had to have cooperated with you, because at one point it says, ‘Thought Barr.’ How would you know what Barr thought unless Barr told you?” In response, Woodward lamely suggested: “Well, there are many ways. He could have a diary.” Colbert joked: “You could be a witch.”

Following a round of laughter, the host moved on: “How many of the people talking to you for this book are trying to rehabilitate their own image by saying, ‘I always thought it was bad. I pushed back’?” It was at that point that Woodward took a moment to swoon over how “courageous” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley had been in committing treasonous actions:

And the one courageous person who did something was General Milley. He said ,”I am going to – ” (Applause) I mean, there is a scene in the book which took our breaths away, I think. When Nancy Pelosi called – Speaker of the House, second in line for the presidency – calls General Milley, and we have a transcript of it –  and says, “General Milley, you know Trump is crazy. He is – you know, he is a – dangerously crazy. How are we going to control nuclear weapons?”….And then, after the call, Milley thinks, you know, she’s right, we better worry about Trump….And so he calls in the colonels and one-star generals and admirals….And he says, “Alright, we have these procedures. Don’t take a call from the president without me being involved. Do you understand that?” And he goes around the room, “Got it?”

As if he was outlining the plot for a cheap action thriller, Woodward sensationally announced: “He’s putting in precautions to make sure if Trump’s gonna blow up the world, or do something that’s against American interest or in fact against Trump’s interest, he’s going to at least be there at the table saying, ‘No!’”

Of course at no point did Colbert push back and question Milley’s actions – assuming Woodward’s fantastic accounts of such high-level, private conversations were even accurate.   

The praise for Woodward and Costa’s sensationalism was brought to viewers by McDonald’s and Clorox. You can fight back by letting these advertisers know what you think of them sponsoring such content.

Here is a transcript of excerpts from the September 21 discussion, aired early on the morning of September 22:

12:03 AM ET

(…)

STEPHEN COLBERT: I want to say, as I have confessed already, I am not fully finished with this book. And it’s not because it’s not a good read. I – it is really compelling. It’s just that I have to close it every so often to quietly weep. (Laughter) And then start it again. And I mean that somewhat sincerely, because what really is upsetting about this is not even so much what you’re reporting in here. Because having read Fear and Rage, nothing in here is surprising. While shocking and upsetting, the path was laid for the behavior that’s in this book. But it is – it is – it is upsetting to read. And I was wondering, was it upsetting to write?

BOB WOODWARD: Yes. We were – look, the theme here – and it was a discovery for us, that this was a national security crisis. We kind of thought, oh, all of Trump was a domestic problem politically. But in China, Russia, and Iran, they said, “My God, what’s happening here?” So they went on military alert. And if you think about it, the three calamities that can befall the United States. First, a war with a major power, like China. Second is the use of nuclear weapons. And the third would be a question about the legitimacy of the president and the presidency. And we found all of those.

And so it was – it was a surprise and it was one of – the problem of Trump extended globally. And if you get into what the chairman of the joint chiefs, General Milley, did, he saw this, and he’s getting intelligence that the Chinese think we are going to attack them. And that if you are in the military, that’s a nightmare. That is the kind of hair-trigger environment where there can be a mistake, where, as Milley told his staff, you will have what’s called a first move, a Pearl Harbor. And so, bottom line, we were going through a secret national security crisis that the public didn’t know about, we didn’t know about, as reporters, and we’re supposed to find out those things as they happen, and the world didn’t know.

COLBERT: You know, the – the oath that federal politicians take is to preserve and protect the Constitution. And against all threats, foreign and domestic. And in a way, that greatest domestic threat was the president himself because he was the locus of the lie that actually led to the crisis on January 6. And, Robert, I was wondering, you know, you’ve been covering Washington for years. What was the most shocking thing that you uncovered in your research for this book, in your reporting?

ROBERT COSTA: Well, Bob mentioned his third point about the presidency, and just how close this country came.

(…)

12:25 AM ET

COLBERT: Let’s think about this in a nonpartisan way. One of the things that’s distressing to me is that when I read the book, I thought, I’m not sure even something this well researched and well explained and this explosive, as the story you tell in this book – and this is you record the interviews? Everything in quotes here, you’ve got dead to rights, right?

WOODWARD: Yes. We don’t disclose who the sources are. We do them on what’s called “deep background.” We’re going to use everything.

COLBERT: But you have to know, like, Barr had to have cooperated with you, because one point it says, “Thought Barr.” How would you know what Barr thought unless Barr told you?

WOODWARD: Well, there are many ways. He could have a diary.

COLBERT: You could be a witch.

WOODWARD: I could be a witch. (Laughter)

COSTA: We don’t discuss sourcing.

COLBERT: You don’t discuss sourcing. Okay, it was Barr talking to you. How many of the people talking to you for this book are trying to rehabilitate their own image by saying, “I always thought it was bad. I pushed back”?

WOODWARD: Some, yes, no question about that. And the one courageous person who did something was General Milley. He said ,”I am going to – ” (Applause) I mean, there is a scene in the book which took our breaths away, I think. When Nancy Pelosi called – Speaker of the House, second in line for the presidency – calls General Milley, and we have a transcript of it –  and says, “General Milley, you know Trump is crazy. He is – you know, he is a – dangerously crazy. How are we going to control nuclear weapons?” And Milley says, “Oh, don’t worry, we have procedures,” and so forth. And she is pounding on him real hard. And it’s a classic Washington moment phone call. And to have a transcript so you see not the B.S., but what they’re really saying to each other. And then, after the call, Milley thinks, you know, she’s right, we better worry about Trump. And so he calls in the colonels and one-star generals and admirals who – into his office from the war room in the Pentagon –

COLBERT: People in the nuclear chain of command.

WOODWARD: Yes, and not just nuclear, but any military action. And he says, “Alright, we have these procedures. Don’t take a call from the president without me being involved. Do you understand that?” And he goes around the room, “Got it?” “Yes, sir.” “Got it? Got it? Got it?” “Yes, sir.” And now, he’s not seizing power. He’s putting in precautions to make sure if Trump’s gonna blow up the world, or do something that’s against American interest or in fact against Trump’s interest, he’s going to at least be there at the table saying, “No!”

COLBERT: One of the things that is striking to me about the last four years, as much as the former president wanted to be a strongman, what do you think those four years and the two books that you wrote, and the book that you and Robert wrote together – Robert, I’ll start with you – what do you think these last four years, and certainly the crisis at the end of the administration, actually did to American power in the world?

COSTA: It certainly tested American power. And whether America is going to be seen as the beacon for liberal democracy around the world. And it’s still an unfolding story about what is the idea of America? What does it represent to our allies, to our adversaries?

(…)

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