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Television

Colbert, Meyers and O’Brien all talk Trump and Civil War facts on late night

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Stephen Colbert chats with the ghost of President Lincoln on “The Late Show.”
(CBS)
Television Critic

Leave it to President Trump to turn the Civil War into current-events fodder tasty enough to attract the attention of a slew of late-night hosts.

Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers and Conan O’Brien all chose to home in Monday night on comments Trump made about President Andrew Jackson and the Civil War in a Sirius XM radio interview that aired earlier in the day.

Trump said Jackson “was really angry that he saw what was happening with regard to the Civil War. He said, ‘There’s no reason for this.’ ”

But Jackson died in 1845, and the Civil War didn’t begin until 16 years later, in 1861.

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“You know, the Civil War, you think about it, why?” Trump said. “People don’t ask that question, but why was there the Civil War? Why could that one not have been worked out?”

On “The Late Show,” Colbert invited the animated likes of President Lincoln’s ghost onstage to answer that question: “Seriously, how many times does Daniel Day-Lewis have to tell you?” Lincoln said. “It’s slavery. Knock, knock. Who’s there? The Union Army come to free the slaves, you brain-dead pumpkin.”

On “Late Night With Seth Meyers,” the host read a faux letter between a fictitious soldier and his love back home: “Dearest Elizabeth, I write to you from the front lines, where the Civil War rages on, for whatever reason.”

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Meyers continued: “Today, I bayoneted my own brother. ‘For what purpose?’ he cried out. And I, of course, could only respond, ‘I do not know. Nobody knows.’ Gen. Grant informed us today that we will be marching on to Gettysburg. ‘What? What’s there?’ I asked. He shrugged, confused. ‘Who knows,’ he said, and cited the famous words of our current president, Andrew Jackson: ‘There’s no reason for this.’ ”

On “Conan,” O’Brien featured a mockumentary narrated by a Trump sound-alike: “The year was either 1975 ... or 1985. Some say it never happened at all,” he said. “I really think this thing could’ve been prevented by a great president like Andrew Jackson or his younger brother, Mr. October, Reggie Jackson.”

Colbert also took the opportunity Monday to riff on Trump’s sit-down with John Dickerson on “Face the Nation.”

In the interview, which ran in two parts over Sunday and Monday, the president was asked about comments he’d made regarding how difficult it was being commander-in-chief, and he slipped a jab into his answer: “Your show. I love your show, I call it ‘Deface the Nation,’ ” Trump said to Dickerson. “But your show is sometimes not exactly correct.”

Dickerson also attempted to discuss Trump’s still-unproved claims that President Obama wiretapped him.

When the “Face the Nation” host asked Trump whether he stood by his earlier claims that Obama was a “sick” and “bad” guy, the president answered, “I don’t stand by anything. I just — you can take it the way you want. I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it. And frankly, it should be discussed. I think that is a very big surveillance of our citizens. I think it’s a very big topic. And it’s a topic that should be number one. And we should find out what the hell is going on.”

Then Trump abruptly ended the interview.

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Colbert said in his monologue Monday: “Donald Trump, John Dickerson is a fair-minded journalist … [who has] way too much dignity to trade insults with a president of the United States. I, sir, am no John Dickerson.”

Colbert then took it upon himself to rebut the president’s description of outlets such as “Face the Nation” as “fake news” with his own string of colorful descriptors about the current commander-in-chief.

“Mr. President, I love your presidency,” Colbert said. “I call it ‘Disgrace the Nation.’ You’re not the POTUS; you’re the gloat-us. You’re the glutton with the button. You’re a regular Gorge Washington. You’re the presi-dunce. …

“Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine,” he said. “You have more people marching against you than cancer. You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head.”

lorraine.ali@latimes.com

@lorraineali

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