To conclude his opening monologue at the 2017 Emmys, host Stephen Colbert took a moment to express some hope that this year’s ceremony would draw a record-breaking audience — and then, to preemptively confirm it, invited none other than Sean Spicer to the stage.
As the audience gasped, Spicer wheeled out a podium and bellowed, “This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period, both in person and around the world.”
“Wow,” Colbert grinned, “this really soothes my fragile ego.”
The bit, of course, was a not-so-sly reference to Spicer’s very first day at work as Donald Trump’s White House press secretary, in which he angrily declared to the press that Trump’s inauguration crowd was the “largest audience to witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the world.”
The bit was also completely unnecessary.
Colbert has spent the entirety of Trump’s time in office railing against the president’s hypocrisy, his exclusionary policies, and his affinity for telling lies whenever it’s convenient. Every night that The Late Show has been on the air has been a night that Colbert has passionately slammed Trump and his staff alike for using their power to spread falsehoods and fear.
That’s why seeing Colbert close out his monologue by sharing a chuckle with Spicer wasn’t just jarring — it was incredibly disappointing.
With this toothless punchline, Colbert and the Emmys cast a jolly sheen over Spicer’s tenure as press secretary, which began with that ridiculous lie about Trump’s inauguration crowd size and continued with him berating the press for asking after the truth while evading it with all his might. It went against everything Colbert purports to do on his fiercely pointed Late Show, and retroactively sucked the air out of any biting Trump jokes he tried to make earlier in the opening monologue.
After watching Colbert rail so hard against the Trump administration’s lies, it was downright bizarre to see him warmly welcome someone responsible for defending so many of them.