Trending News Monday: Colbert out of Context Leads to Crisis

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From the Elite Eight dwindling to the Final Four to Opening Day officially being named a non-holiday and from an earthquake that rocked Yellowstone to a Taco Bell ad that rocked McDonald’s, the Twittosphere was an interesting place to visit this weekend. This Trending News Monday, we’re diving into one of the biggest social media stories of the year.

Context is everything. That’s the lesson Stephen Colbert and everyone at Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report learned over the weekend when a racist tweet sent from the show’s handle made its way through the Twittosphere.

The tweet, which has since been deleted, quoted a line from Colbert’s satirical performance earlier in the week. During The Colbert Report, Colbert delivered some jokes in response Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, and his announcement to set up a foundation to help Native Americans. Of course, 140 characters doesn’t leave much room for context, so the tweet had no mention of the Snyder joke setup. Naturally, Twitter users were outraged when saw the @ColbertReport (a verified account run by Comedy Central) tweet, “I’m willing to show the #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” Disapproval spread so quickly that #CancelColbert began trending.

Stephen Colbert, however, denies he had a hand in sending out the racist tweet. In fact, Colbert himself (in typical satirical fashion) joined the #CancelColbert trend via his personal Twitter account:


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

— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) March 28, 2014

While The Colbert Report will live to send another tweet and Colbert will stand to tell another joke, perhaps in the future they (and all Twitter users, especially brands to public figures) will consider context to avoid a crisis.

Cover Photo Source: Helga Esteb /

Cassandra is a Content Manager and Developer at SJG. She earned her BA from Fontbonne University in 2011. Outside the office, she enjoys an active, healthy and well-rounded lifestyle including reading, writing, running, golfing, watching films, listening to music, taking photographs, and consuming media and social media.