Comedian breaks the news to Chris Wallace that his statistics are "wrong," but at least they agree Trump calling the free press the "Enemy of the People" is dangerous.
Stephen Colbert and Fox News host Chris Wallace clashed Thursday night over the cable news network and President Donald Trump trying really hard to stoke nationwide fear and panic over a caravan of a few thousand migrants journeying toward the United States border at what the "Late Show" host described as "foot speed."
While Wallace admitted "fear of the caravan is not good," he did argue "the good part" of Trump taking such a hard stance against immigration and cracking down on border security.
"The idea that three, or five, or seven thousand people from another country can just walk up to our border, knock on the door, and say, 'We want in. We want to take jobs here, we want to work here.' No."
This is where their debate started getting politely feisty, and even led to a "Late Show" producer fact checking their guest.
"No, we don't have an open border," Colbert fired back. "There is a system, and three to five thousand people will not make it here. This has happened many times before, and they never do, and you know that. And you know that there is a system in place, and there is a legal system, and we have laws that allow asylum. So I believe in the law. Do you believe in the law, Chris Wallace?"
"Uh, yeah sure, I believe in the law," Wallace said, to which Colbert joked, "Okay, then I accept your apology then."
But Wallace wasn't apologizing. "No, because of the fact that under the asylum rules now, if somebody comes in and they say, 'We have credible fear of persecution,' what happens?" he asked. "They are put out into the country, we don't have enough places to put them, so we do have a catch-and-release program, and about 10 percent of the people that are caught and released return for their hearings. And only about 10 percent get legitimate asylum."
Colbert didn't buy these numbers, so a "Late Show" producer used PolitiFact to check them out. The results (read in the second video below) showed that 60-70 percent of non-detained immigrants attended immigration court proceedings.
"So you were 50-60 percent wrong," Colbert joked. But Wallace's stats about asylum approval were roughly accurate, as the data showed only 12 percent of asylum seekers are granted it.
"There ya go," Wallace celebrated, and then ripped up the note card containing the statistics.
"Chris Wallace Lashes Out Violently," Colbert joked about headlines that may emerge after the media watched the interview.
More fun then fact checking Wallace, however, was Colbert simply countering any "good things" the broadcast journalist could offer about Trump.
"If he lies all the time, why wouldn't you attack him? Colbert asked. "If you pour poison in a cup of water, there's still water in there, but I'm not going to drink it because I'm going to be poisoned."
"Did you ever imagine we were going to have an unemployment rate of 3.7 percent?" Wallace asked Colbert, one of the most famous critics of President Trump. The comedian didn't miss a beat with his answer.
"Yes, because we were headed that way for the last five years," he said. "We are on an extension. You understand that the economic recovery did not start on January 1, 2017, right?"
"The fact is, it has continued. It hasn't gone in the other direction," Wallace argued, to which Colbert countered: "So the value is he hasn't destroyed the good things, but he's introduced a lot of hateful nationalism."
Colbert then shifted to President Trump constantly referring to the free press as the "Enemy of the People" and "Fake News Media," even after die-hard Trump supporter Cesar Sayoc was arrested for sending explosive devices to CNN, as well as other Democrats the president has vilified in his speeches and tweets.
"Does that bother you when he calls the 'Fake News' the 'Enemy of the People?'" Colbert asked his guest, who is bothered by it and agrees it's dangerous.
"The freedom of the press is the first amendment to the Constitution, and when you call us the 'Enemy of the People,' you completely undermine the Constitution," Wallace said.
Watch both videos below to see the civil clash of perspectives below, including Wallace criticizing the Washington Post for pointing out in a headline that Sayoc was a Trump supporter -- another point Colbert adamantly disagreed with his guest on.
Props to both gents for keeping their debate a good, clean fight. We need more of that on television these days.