Diving into controversial, political topics is the main point of Stephen Colbert’s job, but a Tweet that an account from Comedy Central’s Twitter (@StephenColbertReport) had sent out recently got him into some hot water with social media.
The Tweet by the account was as follows: “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”
This Tweet was immediately taken down once the firestorm hit. Many Twitter users were complaining about Colbert’s blatant racism, and even started a hashtag called #CancelColbert.
To get a better glimpse as to why the account Tweeted this in the first place, it is important to look into some background information. On Wednesday night’s show, one of the segments highlighted Dan Snyder, the Washington Redskins’ owner. He created the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to retaliate against the controversial team name. The Tweet was making a joke in light of that particular segment.
Apparently Colbert’s Twitter followers do not watch the Stephen Colbert show itself, or else they might have understood the context of the Tweet. Although it was written in typical “Colbert” manner, the Tweet was actually meant to be against what the public is accusing the man of: racism. Plus, the account in question, although verified with the check mark and all, is not run by Colbert.
It has recently been discovered that the Stephen Colbert Report is not even run by Stephen Colbert himself (his Twitter name is @StephenAtHome). The Twitter account run by Comedy Central sent out a couple of clarifying Tweets, stating that the account is in no way affiliated with Colbert and his show.
With no context to go along with the Tweet, a public relations crisis fell right into Colbert’s hands. Although the Tweet has since been deleted, Twitter users took a screenshot of the Tweet. So naturally, it is still virally making its way across every corner of the Internet.
Public relations catastrophe at its finest.
With Stephen Colbert actually Tweeting from his own account (in humourous manner of course), the wildfire of controversy ceased: but only so much. The Tweet is still out there, people will not do their research and look for themselves if the account is actually run by Colbert (the check mark is enough, right?) and Colbert is now labeled as racist. The hashtag #CancelColbert has been going strong all day on all platforms of social media (I see the hashtag trend on the side every time I log into my Facebook account).
As a public relations student, I would have to say Colbert suffered a bit of a blow with this social media trouble. I believe the best way to calm people down and clarify information has already been done: The Comedy Central account Tweeted and said they were not affiliated with the show or Colbert. Colbert spoke on his own Twitter. The only thing left to do is simply to make a tasteful joke about it on the next show.