September 26th, 2010
10:03 AM ET
12 years ago

House leader says Colbert testimony was 'not appropriate'

Washington (CNN) - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said comedian Stephen Colbert embarrassed himself last week when he testified before Congress.

"I think his testimony was not appropriate," Hoyer told FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace.

Colbert, the popular host of "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, spoke in character before members of a House judiciary subcommittee Friday to bring attention to the conditions facing undocumented farm workers. Colbert often spoke sarcastically, prompting laughter in the hearing room and drawing Republicans' scorn.

Colbert was invited to testify by the subcommittee chairwoman, California Democratic Rep. Zoe Lofgren.

Hoyer said on FOX that the testimony "was an embarrassment for Colbert more than for the House."

"What he had to say I think was not the way it should have been said," Hoyer said. "If he had a position on the issues he should have given those issues."

Hoyer said this was his "personal opinion." His views differed from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who called Colbert's testimony "great."

"He's an American. He comes before the committee. He has a point of view," Pelosi said Friday. "It can bring attention to an important issue like immigration. I think it's great."

Filed under: Steny Hoyer • Stephen Colbert
soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Christine O'Rangel

    I pledge allegiance to the pork barrels of the United States of America. signed GOP

    September 26, 2010 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  2. Steve Kinholt

    First of all, Colbert was INVITED to speak. And did they think he would do it out of character? What would be the point in that? Colbert's humor is very intelligent which is why may of the old farts in Congress, and some of you, don't get it.

    September 26, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. blue

    Colbert revealed politics for what it is–a big joke. Normal Americans are going through some tough times, and all our elected leaders do is play political games with each other while dancing around the issues they were trying to address in the first place.

    September 26, 2010 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  4. Eric

    Glad to know congress don't have a sense of humor. It goes right in hand with their lack of common sense.

    September 26, 2010 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. Cliff

    A piece of garbage that escaped from "hollyweird."
    Guess too many people in MN got frozen brains when they voted for Colbert.
    Funny? He's about as funny as watching Rosie and Ellen.

    September 26, 2010 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  6. Annie, Atlanta

    I thought Colbert's testimony was extremely appropriate. We treat our animals better than we treat migrant workers, and our politicians, and most of us in general, have been ignoring that fact forever. Good for Stephen Colbert. And it's a plus that he made our elected representatives look like a bunch of ignoramuses. We pay them way too much money for being stupid.

    September 26, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  7. J. Turner

    Steny Hoyer, retire you old goat. We don't need you there. Inappropriate? The entire house is inappropriate and a comedy of errors on a most insidious and disastrous sense. You are a joke just as much as you cohorts are. Every single one of you need to be replaced by people who aren't afraid to be American which includes social disobedience as second nature. That is how we were formed.

    September 26, 2010 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Did anyone see when the man tried to kick Colbert out of the building before his speech? Someone needs to get rid of that guy he talks so slowly and incoherently. I think hes too old.

    September 26, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  9. JoshisFamous

    At first I was shocked that this would take place, but after listening in and viewing his plea to the House I was very interested and it actually makes you think. Where does it say there should be a separation between comedy and government? Anybody can have a view and I think Colbert using his celebrity to take these views to the House was an very appropriate action. Yes, it was funny and yes there were laughs, but in all seriousness...he was there, stated his issues and even answered questions from the House on his position of the issues discussed. What is wrong with that?

    Also, Fox News? C'mon now....

    September 26, 2010 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  10. Scott

    Politicians fight and squabble over this issue. Colbert brings in HIS perspective and he is scorned over it? I watched his speech and laughed along with him. I wish politicians would take note and tone down their BS rhetoric and just do something.

    September 26, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  11. Ashamed American

    The fact we are still talking about it proves having him there was a brilliant idea.

    September 26, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  12. Jon

    Colbert has the American Right to say whatever he wants to say. He was invited by one of the members on the panel and he came to voice his opinion. I believe that it was probably one on the most watched segment of CSPAN in recent memory. While I do not agree that he should voice his opinion "in character" but if humor and sarcasm can get a point across and that is what it takes then I am all for it.

    September 26, 2010 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  13. Marla

    The history of politics is filled with examples of satire and irony used to bring points home. Colbert did exactly that. In five minutes, he managed to bring up a number of pointed issues: the life of migrant workers, worker rights and pay, worker safety, labor practices, outsourcing, obesity. And, Mostly Silent, by highlighting these issues, he DID point out the human rights issues in his speech.

    Perhaps the Congressman Hoyer should respond to the issues and not the messenger. Lack of response to the issues raised shows that the message hit too close to home.

    September 26, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  14. Rob

    I was not aware these hearings were being held and I had not been thinking about the plight of migrant farm workers. But I saw the bit about Colbert testifying and I decided to watch. He was funny, and effective. He addressed a serious issue with humor. He did not mock or belittle the issue, he just made fun while pointing out a serious issue. Key point is that it worked. They brought in a celebrity to raise the visibility of the hearings and the issue, and he did just that. I watched the video and read the article. I'm sure countless others have too. Those concerned about Colbert being inappropriate must be the ones who would have preferred to keep this outside of public view so they wouldn't have to do anything about it.

    September 26, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. GrimShaw

    Don't ya just love how this deregulated media outlet reports completely opposite of reality?

    September 26, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  16. Nathan H.

    Love to see that some of our politicians have absolutely no sense of humor. Colbert brought a bit of relief from the constant political BS, which according to me, was quite refreshing. to anyone that didn't find Stephen funny, you missed the point. The point is that politics has become too regimented and not fun, full of stupid senseless crap. Years ago a child might have said "I want to be the president" or "i want to be in congress", but now no one would want to subject themselves to that type of corrupt, mundane, boring life.

    September 26, 2010 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  17. JP


    well so far our representatives haven't done their job and instead have managed to just waste our money, much more than steven colbert wasted for his little stunt, which by the way was quite hilarious and exposes the political system for what it is in this country, one big joke!

    September 26, 2010 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  18. Sean

    Great comedians and actors have the gift to see the truth in issues that many people in the world cannot see. It is a comedian's job and gift to find the absurdity in what others take so seriously. That is a gift and, in my opinion, is perfectly appropriate and vital to the growth of, not just America, but humanity as well.

    September 26, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. atlantaguy

    THere shouldnt be a debate on how to treat illegal immigrants there shouldn't be any Illegals don't and shouldn't have rights they are not citzens and should be deported on sight and dont give me any more of this were all illegals because the other countries discovered america and founded a country here when their were just tribal nations of wanderers before its not right what was done to the indians still

    September 26, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  20. BD70

    I think some politicians need to lighten up. Bunch of stick in the mud cranky pants.

    September 26, 2010 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  21. spike in conshohocken pa

    Klown Kongress invites a TV Klown to testify. Welcome to 2010. We live in an Idiocracy. A very expensive Idiocracy.

    September 26, 2010 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Cassie

    He did his job: People watched. I will thank you to remember that he is a comedian first. He brought attention to a serious matter; he did this because he wants to help those less fortunate than himself, so that makes him one great guy in my book. Rock on, Mr. Colbert, rock on!

    September 26, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. John

    Colbert' testimony was great and to the point. He made right wingers and immigrant haters look like fools. He even poked fun of democrat house members, saying that some will lose their jobs next year. That is why Hoyer did not like it.
    He got out of character when asked why he testified. He said that immigrant workers are powerless, have no rights, and somebody should speak out for them - completely contrary to Colbert's republican spiel. This was a powerful statement that sounded to me more like an indictment of democrat representatives for doing little or nothing on this issue.
    Colbert 's testimony also raised the level of interest from the media to this issue, if only for a little time.
    One thing is sure - the republicans hated it, as Fox was all over deriding Colbert and the panel leadership for calling him to the hearing. Vote for President Colbert !

    September 26, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. Josh

    I totally agree with Hoyer. Colbert had every right to express his opinion, but he made a bunch of stupid jokes and wasted everyone's time, and *that* was inappropriate.

    September 26, 2010 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Courtney

    I am not surprised House Leader Steny Hoyer does not get the meaning behind Stephen Colbert testimony. He and his other fellow members of Congress in both parties are just plain dumb most of the time. They need to start paying attention to what is going on in this country. And no, the Tea Party is not the solution to our problems with Washington. Tea Bagger candidates will only make things worse.

    September 26, 2010 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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