Stephen Colbert under fire for “racist” tweet, sparks #CancelColbert hashtag

Stephen Colbert has found himself in hot water after The Colbert Report’s official Twitter account published a joke many Twitter users found offensive.

The show's official Twitter tweeted a quote from Wednesday's show, causing the hashtag #CancelColbert to trend. Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly

Photo credit: Entertainment Weekly

The contents of the now-deleted tweet were taken from a longer segment during last Wednesday night’s show. However, the joke didn’t translate so well from TV to social media.

The segment during last Wednesday's (03-26-14) show. Photo credit: Comedy Central

The segment during last Wednesday’s (03-26-14) show. Photo credit: Comedy Central

Here’s more from Entertainment Weekly:

The tweet was a joke from Wednesday night’s show. But during the episode segment, the line was in a clear context — Colbert was mocking Redskins owner Dan Snyder for responding to complaints about his team name by announcing a foundation to help Native Americans. Stripped of that context on Twitter, the line seemed to strike some as over the top.

Taken out of context, the tweet sent Twitter users into a frenzy, causing the hashtag #CancelColbert to trend – a hashtag started by Suey Park, according to The Wire.

Colbert spoke out after the controversy, emphasizing the distinction between his personal account (@StephenAtHome) and the show’s account (@ColbertReport):

#CancelColbert – I agree! Just saw @ColbertReport tweet. I share your rage. Who is that, though? I’m @StephenAtHome

Colbert doesn’t directly control the show’s account, which uses quotes from his show, according to Entertainment Weekly.

Read more here.

“Ching-Chong Ding-Dong” is a reference to a satirical Asian caricature Colbert has assumed on the show in the past, according to USA Today. Colbert assumed the character to mock Rush Limbaugh after the radio talk show host made headlines over his racist impersonation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The joke shouldn’t come as a surprise to those who watch The Colbert Report, which uses overly-caricaturized and offensive characters. Colbert is actually assuming a character, which he described as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot” in an interview with The New York Times.

This just emphasizes the differences between TV audiences and social media audiences. Given in the right context, the “racist” joke makes its point but, out of context and in the hands of millions, things can go wrong very quickly.

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