Colbert Twists Sources To Spread Hysteria About Snipers At Colleges

Stephen Colbert spread hysteria about the anti-Israel encampments on college campuses on Tuesday’s edition of The Late Show on CBS. Making matters much worse is that Colbert took his own sources out of context in order to make his claims.

First, however, Colbert had to set the scene, “The protests ramped up a couple of weeks ago, after students erected tents on Columbia University’s main lawn to show solidarity with Gaza.” After being interrupted by applause from the audience, he continued, “and the university president took the controversial step of calling in the police to arrest those involved. Now, even if you don’t agree with the subject of their protests as long as they are peaceful, students should be allowed to protest. It’s their First Amendment right.”

You do not have a First Amendment right to illegal trespass. You cannot walk into the Ed Sullivan Theater. pitch a tent, and claim that is your new home until CBS meets your demands. Colbert would concede at the end “that overnight, protestors at Columbia broke into a campus building.”

Still, he claimed “That is the kind of idealism you learn in college, it’s one of the few college lessons you can use your whole life, unlike beer funneling, which you stop being able to do around 35, when your wife catches you.”

Colbert wants to pretend that the demonstrators are simple peace activists and not anti-Semitic, but before you could tell him what groups like Students for Justice in Palestine really believe, he continued, “’Photos online show police snipers set up on the roofs of buildings at Ohio State University and Indiana University.’”

When doing his monologue, Colbert will talk over screenshots of his sources. That last quote came from a Snopes article, but here is the full quote, “Two photographs circulated online in posts claiming that state police snipers had set up on the roofs of buildings at Ohio State University and Indiana University.” It also reads, “The OSU newspaper The Lantern reported that the people on the roof of the OSU building were initially using spotting scopes to watch protesters, but switched to rifles once arrests began on the green space below.”

Colbert continued, “although ‘the Ohio State University administration stated that these were state police officers… which the school also employs during football games.’ “’What are you worrying about, students? The snipers are always there. For football games, women’s volleyball, an acapella.’”

The part of the Intelligencer article that Colbert’s ellipse took out was, “Ohio State administration stated that these were state police officers working as spotters, which the school also employs during football games.”

Snopes also reported that at the time the videos went viral, there were no snipers at Ohio State (they never confirmed or disproved the Indiana claim), but after arrests began, “the two people on the roof had indeed switched to “long-range firearms as part of their protocol.” 

Colbert spread fake news about the timing of the snipers, he fed into the hysteria that implied that law enforcement that provides security for large crowd events has itchy trigger fingers, and he took his sources out of context to do it.

Here is a transcript for the April 30 show:

CBS The Late Show

4/30/2024

11:41 PM ET

STEPHEN COLBERT: The protests ramped up a couple of weeks ago, after students erected tents on Columbia University’s main lawn to show solidarity with Gaza, and the university president took the controversial step of calling in the police to arrest those involved. Now, even if you don’t agree with the subject of their protests as long as they are peaceful, students should be allowed to protest. It’s their First Amendment right. That is the kind of idealism you learn in college, it’s one of the few college lessons you can use your whole life, unlike beer funneling, which you stop being able to do around 35, when your wife catches you. 

And it’s not just at Columbia. Yesterday, cops arrested at least 100 protestors at UT Austin. This morning, they arrested at least 30 protestors at UNC Chapel Hill. Yes, college administrators are using the classic de-escalation tactic of sending in heavily armed police and threatening to call the National Guard. Photos online show police snipers set up on the roofs of buildings at Ohio State university and Indiana University, although the Ohio State University administration stated that these were state police officers … which the school also employs during football games “What are you worrying about, students? The snipers are always there. For football games, women’s volleyball, an acapella. You’ve been warned, guy who goes “Sha-doop shooby Doop.” Buy a guitar!”

Now, tensions right now are so high that overnight, protestors at Columbia broke into a campus building, which probably will not help their cause with the public.

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