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Stephen Colbert Explains Capitol Staff Arrests: ‘It Was Puppetry in the First Degree’

By Frank Pallotta, CNN Business

“How was your weekend? I certainly had an interesting one because some of my staff had a memorable one.

That’s how Stephen Colbert opened his monologue on Monday after members of his “Late Show” production team were arrested at the United States Capitol last week.

“It was puppetry in the first degree,” Colbert said.

Colbert explained that members of his team, including “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog”, a puppet voiced by comedian Robert Smigel, went to film a comedy segment related to the January 6 ratings for two days last week at the offices. of Congress across from the Capitol.

The host said staff had passed security clearance and been invited into the offices of the representatives they were interviewing – which is important to note since Triumph “operates by Dracula’s rules”, according to Colbert. On the second day of filming, the staff was detained by United States Capitol Police.

“Which is actually not so surprising. Capitol police are much more cautious than they were, say, 18 months ago, and for very good reason,” Colbert said. “If you don’t know what that reason is, I know what news network you’re looking at.”

On Friday, US Capitol Police said in a statement that officers “observed seven people, unescorted and without congressional ID, in a sixth-floor hallway” in the Longworth House office building. on Capitol Hill.

Capitol Police added that these individuals were charged with unlawful entry. CBS noted in a statement Friday that its production team’s interviews with members of Congress were “cleared and pre-arranged.”

Colbert went on to say on Monday that the US Capitol police were just doing their jobs, as were their staff, and everyone was “very professional” and “very calm.”

“A pretty simple story until the next night when a few people on TV started claiming that my puppet team had ‘committed an insurrection in the United States Capitol,'” he said. “First of all…what?” Second…huh?

The host explained that there are major differences between an insurrection and what his staff did, which he described as “hijinks with the intent to goof.”

“It’s predictable why these TV talkers talk like that on TV. They want to talk about something other than the January 6 hearings on the real seditious insurrection that resulted in the deaths of several people,” Colbert said. “But to equate rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of ballots and a stuffed dog biting a cigar is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of all those who died.”

Colbert ended his account of the incident with a satirical history lesson on “puppet anarchy”.

“‘The Great Muppet Caper’, the fraggle riots of the 1980s…How do you think King Friday came to power in the fantasy district?” he said. “In this case, our puppet was just a puppet doing puppet stuff, and unfortunately so much has changed in Washington that the Capitol police have to stay on high alert at all times because of the attack of January 6. And as the hearings prove each day more clearly, the blame for this real insurrection lies entirely with Putin’s puppet.

– CNN’s Oliver Darcy contributed to this report.

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