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Here's how Stephen Colbert says his staff members got arrested on Capitol Hill

Stephen Colbert wasted no time in addressing news about his own show on Monday evening. The host of CBS' Late Show said hello and then asked the audience "Quick question, how was your weekend? I certainly had an interesting one, because some of my staff had a memorable one."

Colbert was referring to news that came out on Friday that members of his staff and crew were arrested on Capitol Hill as they tried to film a segment featuring Triumph The Insult Comic Dog, a puppet voiced by Robert Smigel. The segment was focused on the Jan. 6 committee hearings.

"Democratic and Republican congresspeople agreed to talk to Triumph," Colbert said. "He's a bipartisan puppy. He's so neutral, he's neutered."

The production crew already had filmed for two days in congressional offices.

"They went through security clearance, shot all day Wednesday, all day Thursday, invited into the offices of the congresspeople they were interviewing," Colbert said.

After the interviews on Thursday, the crew was filming some "last-minute puppetry" in a hallway at the Longworth House Office Building when they were approached and detained by the Capitol Police. They were processed and later released.

Actor and comedian Robert Smigel performs as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in the hallways of the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday.
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
Getty Images
Actor and comedian Robert Smigel performs as Triumph the Insult Comic Dog in the hallways of the Cannon House Office Building on Thursday.

Colbert didn't appear upset by what happened with the police and said it "actually, isn't that surprising."

"The Capitol police are much more cautious than they were, say,18 months ago, and for a very good reason," Colbert said, referring to the Jan. 6 insurrection.

He added that "If you don't know what that reason is, I know what news network you watch," Colbert added. Fox News chose not to air the initial Jan. 6 committee hearing.

Overall, though, Colbert said the "Capitol Police were just doing their job," and that everyone was professional and calm throughout the entire thing.

Colbert called it "a fairly simple story," or at least it was "until the next night when a couple of the TV people started claiming that my puppet squad had quote 'committed insurrection' at the U.S. Capitol Building."

The "TV people" that Colbert referenced included Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who called the CBS team "saboteurs" and falsely said that they breached the Capitol.

"They weren't in the Capitol building," Colbert said Monday night. "And I'm shocked I have to explain the difference — but an insurrection involves disrupting the lawful actions of Congress and howling for the blood of elected leaders, all to prevent the peaceful transfer of power.

"This was first-degree puppetry. Hijinks with intent to goof. Misappropriation of an old Conan bit."

Colbert said the false narrative about his team was a predictable move by the conservative TV media.

"They want to talk about something other than the Jan. 6th hearings on the actual seditionist insurrection that led to the deaths of multiple people, and the injury of over 140 police officers," Colbert said. "But drawing any equivalence between rioters storming our Capitol to prevent the counting of electoral ballots and a cigar-chomping toy dog, is a shameful and grotesque insult to the memory of everyone who died. And it obscenely trivializes the service and the courage the Capitol Police showed on that terrible day."

To make his point about how ludicrous it would be to call the segment filming an insurrection, Colbert joked about "the long history of puppet lawlessness" including the Jim Henson classic, The Great Muppet Caper.

"But, in this case, our puppet was just a puppet doing puppet stuff," Colbert said. "And sad to say, so much has changed in Washington that the Capitol Police do have to stay at high alert at all times because of the attack on Jan. 6th. And as the hearings prove more clearly every day, the blame for that actual insurrection all lies with Putin's puppet."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Wynne Davis is a digital reporter and producer for NPR's All Things Considered.