Hoyer calls Colbert testimony ‘inappropriate’

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Upshot
Stephen Colbert testitifes on Capitol Hill.
Stephen Colbert testitifes on Capitol Hill.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, appearing on Fox News Sunday, criticized Comedy Central host Stephen Colbert's testimony Friday on Capitol Hill, an event that took place at the behest of Democrats.

"I think his testimony was not appropriate," Hoyer told Fox host Chris Wallace.

Hoyer's comments differ sharply from many Democrats on the Hill who defended Colbert's presence as a means to bring attention to the issue of farm workers.

Colbert testified Friday before a House subcommittee at the invitation of chairwoman Zoe Lofgren. But members of both parties had questioned what value Colbert, who admitted having limited knowledge of the issue, brought to the topic and whether his presence was a distraction or a stunt.

Adding to the odd nature of Colbert's appearance was that Colbert testified in character -- the conservative, bombastic, Bill O'Reilly-style host from The Colbert Report-- and injected sarcasm and humor into testimony on the serious issue.

Hoyer suggested this was not an appropriate tactic.

"What I think he had to say was not the way it should have been said," Hoyer explained.

Committee member John Conyers, a Democrat, suggested before Colbert spoke that the Comedy Central host exit the hearing room and only submit written testimony. (Conyers later withdrew the request.)

Republicans have been using Colbert's appearance to suggest Democrats have misplaced their priorities.

"They've got time to bring a comedian to Washington, D.C. but they don't have time to eliminate uncertainty by extending tax cuts," House Republican Leader John Boehner said on Fox News prior to Hoyer's segment.

Hoyer stopped short of faulting his own party for the incident, saying the testimony was "an embarrassment for Mr. Colbert more than the House."

(Photo: AP/Alex Brandon)