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Stephen Colbert Gets Letterman’s Job—and Right-Wingers Freak Out | The Nation

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Greg Mitchell

Greg Mitchell

Media, politics and culture.

Stephen Colbert Gets Letterman’s Job—and Right-Wingers Freak Out

Stephen Colbert

Stephen Colbert at the &lquo;Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear&rquo; on the National Mall in Washington, DC (Reuters/Jim Bourg)

Yes, many wanted a woman to break the old- and older-boy network late night line-up, but the news from CBS that Stephen Colbert, as rumored, would take David Letterman’s seat next year brought general applause or at least acceptance—except from many conservatives he had long parodied or mocked on his current show.

They got a true “Colbert” bump—and didn’t like it. Apparently his satire has hit too close to the bone. On Letterman’s ex-show, however, he has vowed to just be himself, not a right-wing blowhard.

Meanwhile, reacting to the Letterman news late last night: Jon Stewart opened The Daily Show with the Colbert news, a clip (the famous gay-banana crack-up), and other exclamations about this “wild” day. He recalled the difficulty in not cracking up on air when Stephen was doing his bits on Jon’s show. “The exciting news,” he concluded, “is I no longer need a cable subscription to enjoy Stephen Colbert.” (This was generous, as Stewart helped create and has a financial stake in the outgoing Colbert Report.)

Then he paid tribute to Letterman as the “best” TV host there ever was but claimed Stephen is “up to the challenge… There’s no greater joy than to see a genuinely good man get the success he deserves.” He added that he looks forward to seeing Colbert’s name on marquee of the Ed Sullivan theater.

Then Colbert opened his show by deadpanning that he’ll miss Letterman on the air now. He has watched him since college and “he influenced every host who came after him, and some who came before. And I tell you, I do not envy anyone they try to put in that chair. Those are some big shoes to fill—and some really big pants.”

Meanwhile, on the right, as Salon reported:

While many people responded to the news with pleasure and excitement, right-wing talk-radio king Rush Limbaugh was quick to offer his two cents, saying that Colbert’s hiring was a declaration of war on the American “heartland” by CBS.

And as a perusal of the right-wing Twitter community shows, Limbaugh was hardly the only conservative to greet Colbert’s promotion with anger and dismay. Indeed, the sentiment on the right in response to the news can be summarized like so: Stephen Colbert’s being chosen to succeed David Letterman shows that liberal media bias is real. And, also too, Colbert’s not funny, anyway.

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Ben Shapiro offered a typical view from those quarters: “Colbert? Really? Why not just wait until President Obama is out of office and hire him to replace Letterman directly?”

And just because it never gets old: here’s that classic Colbert putdown of the media and President Bush (to his face) at the White House Correspondents dinner:

Read Next: Stephen Colbert points out the absurdities of lethal injection secrecy laws.

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