Stephen Colbert is a liberal

US late night shows after four years of Trump: "Didn't know it would hurt so much"

Hardly anyone attacked Donald Trump more sharply than the US satirist Stephen Colbert. In an angry speech, he worked his way off the outgoing US president.

The king of the US late night didn't feel like joking that evening. Stephen Colbert, presenter of the "Late Show", went on the air when Donald Trump's monstrosities had hardly faded away. It was Thursday, two days after the US election, and a winner had not yet been announced. Except from Trump - who exclaimed himself.

Colbert railed that Trump wanted to "kill" democracy. No more jokes, no more winking, no mischievous smile, no meta-level. He fell out of the role - perhaps intentionally - and the video of it went viral. Like his fellow moderators on the US evening shows, Colbert has become a liberal bulwark against Trump over the past four years. After his election defeat, a new era could dawn for them too.

Colbert wears black that evening. Like a funeral, he says. "Like you, I'm exhausted," he continues, apparently in consternation, pausing for 12 seconds every now and then, calling Trump a "fascist" and the "fat guy with the red hat". The undemocratic behavior that Trump showed after the election was expected. "What I didn't know is that it would hurt so much. I didn't expect it to break my heart."

Hardly anyone attacked Trump in the past few years with sharper ridicule than Colbert, which was also reflected in his skyrocketing audience numbers. Just like his colleagues, Trevor Noah from the "Daily Show" or Jimmy Kimmel ("Jimmy Kimmel Live!"), He exposed the lies more effectively and demonstrated the absurdities of the populist Trump years more directly than any news program.

They spoke of lies and embarrassment

The shows use their freedoms vis-à-vis the journalists, were emphatically subjective and did not hold back linguistically. Unlike the news, they did not speak of "untruths", but of "lies", not of "bizarre appearances", but "embarrassments". Colbert, Noah and Seth Myers openly expressed their dislike of Trump. For many of the Americans who loathe Trump, the biting ridicule was all they had left to endure the reality.

But nobody knows exactly what will come next. Not that the late night shows haven't been joking at the expense of political leaders for decades, that will continue under Joe Biden. But the activism during the Trump years cannot be compared with it.

Shows could become less political

"I see a lot change," said producer Daniel Kellison, who has worked with industry greats David Letterman and Jimmy Kimmel, the Washington Post. "Many people have looked to late night for relief from stressful news, and the question is, will they still do that when the news is less stressful?" In his opinion, the shows could become less political. A trend that was also observed after the transition from the Bush to the Obama administration.

But 2020 could also be different because Donald Trump is unlikely to behave like a classic ex-president. At the moment he still sees himself in the seemingly hopeless power struggle for the White House. But the media are already reporting that he wants to run again in 2024. There is also speculation that Trump could start his own TV station. For the late night shows, he should stay as a joke. But you have to think carefully about how much more space you want to give it.

Colbert wants "boring presidents"

Stephen Colbert, as an anonymous confidante is quoted by the Washington Post, is happy with the election result. Also professionally, although Trump gave him dream ratings. He doesn't want to work on him for another four years. In his angry speech, which is also available on Youtube, Colbert says that like everyone else, he only wants one thing: "A boring president".

(Benno Schwinghammer / dpa)