Stephen Colbert responded Wednesday night to the controversy surrounding his use of a homophobic slur earlier this week during a blistering Late Show monologue in which he bashed President Donald Trump.
Colbert opened Wednesday night’s show by jokingly assuring the audience he was “still the host” of The Late Show, after he generated a social media firestorm Tuesday and Wednesday when he referred to Trump’s mouth as “Vladimir Putin’s c*ck holster” during Monday night’s broadcast.
The comment sparked viewer outrage and the hashtag #FireColbert quickly became a trending topic on Twitter Tuesday.
“Welcome to The Late Show. I’m your host, Stephen Colbert. Still? I’m still the host? I’m still the host!” Colbert said at the top of Wednesday’s show, according to a transcript provided to the Hollywood Reporter.
“Now, if you saw my monologue Monday, you know that I was a little upset at Donald Trump for insulting a friend of mine,” he added, referring to CBS’ John Dickerson. “So at the end of that monologue, I had a few choice insults for the president in return. I don’t regret that. He, I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes, he has the launch codes. So, it’s a fair fight.”
Colbert continued by acknowledging his choice of phrase had been offensive to the LGBT community, but declined to offer an apology for using the term.
“So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” the host said. “I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but I just want to say for the record, life is short, and anyone who expresses their love for another person, in their own way, is to me, an American hero. I think we can all agree on that. I hope even the president and I can agree on that. Nothing else. But, that.”
Colbert lit into Trump during Monday’s monologue, calling him a “presi-dunce” and a “prick-tator.”
“Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine,” he said then. “You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head.”
Wednesday’s comments were the first from Colbert since the #FireColbert campaign began in earnest on Tuesday. Outraged viewers set up a @FireColbert Twitter account and a website, and vowed to target the late-night host’s advertisers.
CBS did not respond to a request for comment.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum