On Monday night, late-night hosts returned to address a nation reeling from two deadly mass shootings that unfolded less than 24 hours apart over the weekend. And as John Oliver told viewers of his Sunday night show, “Last Week Tonight,” the subject of gun violence has become all too familiar — a theme Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Jimmy Kimmel and Jimmy Fallon reiterated as they discussed the tragedies in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.
Below, we’ve rounded up the most poignant and pointed commentary from Monday’s late-night lineup.
Meyers focused on the El Paso shooter’s alleged white-supremacist views, which he cast as part of a larger problem “fueled by racist vitriol, warning of invasions by immigrants — language that is frequently echoed by right-wing media outlets and, of course, the president.” The issue, he said, is compounded by “too much easy access to weapons of war that should be outlawed.”
“This is a moment that deserves moral clarity and urgency from our political leaders,” he noted before launching into his trademark “Closer Look” segment.
The host cited a chart from Vox, which analyzed gun ownership and gun-related deaths across developed nations. “We’re farther away from the U.K. on this chart than we are in real life,” Meyers quipped.
He then criticized Republican politicians for avoiding reporters in the aftermath of the attacks, showing a clip of CNN’s Jake Tapper explaining that his show had requested interviews with GOP officials from El Paso and Dayton, as well as White House officials, but all requests were declined.
“And then when Republicans did finally speak up, they acted as if the reasons for these attacks were somehow mysterious, even though we know the facts about the epidemic about gun deaths and mass shootings in this country, and we know that the threat of white supremacist terrorism is growing and real,” Meyers said.
Meyers called out Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who tweeted early Sunday that “there are some issues, like homelessness and these shootings, where we simply don’t have all the answers.”
“You’re not going to get all the answers if you refuse to ask any questions,” Meyers said. “But these guys have to pretend this is some sort of unsolvable problem because they’re beholden to powerful lobbies like gun manufacturers and the NRA.”
The host also directed scathing commentary at those who blamed video games for the violence — a group that included House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican.
“You do know that other countries have video games, right? Japan has a huge gaming culture and very few gun deaths,” Meyers said. “If video games are so influential, they should make one about Congress called ‘ … do something.’ ” (Note that we’re omitting a word here.)
“The Daily Show” host took a unique approach to discussing the weekend’s tragic events — spending several minutes analyzing Neil deGrasse Tyson’s widely criticized tweet comparing mass-shooting deaths to deaths caused by medical errors, influenza, suicide, car accidents and handgun-involved homicides.
In addition to being ill-timed, Noah said he felt that Tyson’s tweet “fundamentally missed the human element of what people are fighting for in America, and that is: trying,” Noah said.
While the host acknowledged that many people indeed die because of medical errors, car accidents and other causes, he said the difference comes down to the efforts taken to prevent those deaths.
“We ban dangerous cars,” he said, adding that speed bumps, traffic stops and driver’s licenses are all ways we work to “minimize the chance of a person dying in a car.” He referenced the increase in transportation security measures post-9/11.
“That’s all I don’t understand about how people argue the guns thing. You’re not saying ‘get rid of guns.’ You’re saying ‘try to minimize the chances of this happening,’ ” Noah explained. “Try to make it as hard as possible for people to own a gun, because you only want people who are willing to work hard to own a gun, to own a gun. You only want people who respect the gun to own a gun.”
Kimmel spoke frankly during his monologue. “Too many people are being shot with high-powered weapons,” he told viewers.
The comedian called Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell an “evil, soulless old creep” for not calling the Senate back into session to vote on a bipartisan bill that would expand background checks for gun purchases and transfers. The House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 back in February, but the Senate has not yet voted on the legislation.
Like Meyers, Kimmel chided Republican politicians for being “too cowardly to go on cable television.” He also criticized Trump’s remarks on the attacks — from his assertion Sunday that “perhaps more has to be done” to his tweet blaming “fake news” for the country’s issues.
Kimmel also criticized Trump for praising Colby Covington, a UFC fighter and supporter of the president, in a tweet posted less than 15 minutes after Trump first tweeted about the El Paso attack.
“I think maybe more than anything, this gives you some insight into how much this man cares,” Kimmel said.
After acknowledging that “today was a very rough day,” the “Late Show” host began, ostensibly, with a joke: “Thanks to Trump’s trade war with China, the DOW Industrial Average lost more than 750 points today. “
“And that was the ‘smile file,’ ” he deadpanned. “Because it’s really all downhill from here.”
Colbert told his audience that he had been watching HBO’s “Chernobyl” miniseries, and noticed something familiar.
“Over and over again in it, a scientist or engineer will tell a politician, ‘Hey, we’ve got a real problem here. The nuclear core is going to melt down and kill everyone,’ ” Colbert said. “But the politicians refuse to believe it because any acknowledgment of failure threatens their position of power, and their power is more important than saving lives.”
“I think at this point, it’s clear that America’s gun culture is melting down,” he continued. “But the Republicans in Congress would rather maintain their power than save lives.”
To that end, Colbert reserved his harshest criticism for McConnell. “Now, look, you can’t put a price on human life, but it doesn’t stop Mitch from trying,” he said.
The “Tonight Show” host opened a somber monologue by telling his audience that “these are the hardest nights to do a show like this.”
“There are no words that can make it easier — all we can say is that the victims and their families, and everyone in Dayton and El Paso, are in our hearts tonight,” he continued. “And to anyone whose background has made them a target of prejudice or hate or violence, or anyone who feels that they may not be welcome in this country, know that you that are welcome. We support you and we love you and the cycle of hate needs to stop.”
“Please make your voice heard,” Fallon urged viewers, suggesting they contact their local representatives, march in a protest, donate to charities that fight “for common-sense gun laws,” or vote.
“It’s the only way we can make things better and we can be better,” he added.