Stephen Colbert Dances With Henry Kissinger

Stephen Colbert—Comedy Central host, ex-presidential candidate, and fierce critic of President Obama’s targeted killing policy—was recently snubbed by Daft Punk. The French electro-pop duo was supposed to perform on The Colbert Report for “StePhest Colbchella ‘013,” but was forced to cancel due to contractual obligations with Comedy Central’s sister network MTV.

So on Tuesday’s show, Colbert spent much of the program taking lighthearted swipes at the electronic music stars and debuted a comedic dance-party clip set to Daft Punk’s hit song “Get Lucky.” In the video, Colbert gleefully dances with Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Bryan Cranston, Hugh Laurie, and… Henry Kissinger:

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Video Archive

At the 2:44 mark, Colbert enters Kissinger’s office and proceeds to groove around his desk. Kissinger’s segment ends with the former secretary of state and national security advisor picking up the phone and calmly calling “security” on the dancing comedian.

The video is, of course, all in good fun, and many American political figures (some of whom have appeared on The Colbert Report) are criticized for US foreign policy decisions. But Kissinger’s reputation is unique, and now is a good time to revisit why. Here are just some of the reasons why Colbert and Co. should have thought twice before making Kissinger seem like an aging teddy bear in a five-minute dance video:

Various human rights groups and journalists, including Amnesty International and the late Christopher Hitchens, have highlighted Henry Kissinger’s alleged complicity in major human rights violations and war crimes around the globe, in Chile (murder and subversion of democracy), Bangladesh (genocide), and East Timor (yet more genocide), to name a few. Perhaps his most notorious alleged act was taking part in the sabotage—on behalf of the Nixon presidential campaign—of the 1968 Vietnam War peace talks (secret diplomacy that quite possibly constituted a violation of the Logan Act). Subsequently, the Vietnam War was prolonged well into the Nixon years, allowing the US ample opportunity to do things like carpet-bomb eastern Cambodia.

Kissinger’s lesser offenses include venting about “self-serving” Jewish “bastards” who were trying to escape persecution and cultural eradication in the Soviet Union. (Kissinger is Jewish, and his family fled from Nazi Germany in the late 1930s.)

The Nobel Peace Prize-winning statesman has previously appeared on The Colbert Report, including in this clip with Eliot Spitzer and guitarist Peter Frampton. Comedy Central did not respond to a request for comment regarding Kissinger’s multiple appearances, and Colbert’s personal publicist could not be reached for comment. I will update this post if that changes.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend