On Friday’s Late Show, Rob Reiner came out to a standing ovation. Which is what you get when you’re responsible for a handful of stone-cold beloved movie classics one supposes, although, as ever, the garrulous comedy legend remains a reliably entertaining talk show guest in his own right. He also got a second, Colbert-led standing O when he revealed that he and then Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour writing partner Steve Martin were responsible for what he claimed was the first-ever fart joke on national television. “Thank you for your service,” Colbert saluted, respectfully.
There to talk about his unsurprisingly timely film paean to investigative journalism, Shock And Awe, the unabashedly political Reiner was vocal in his support for the job present-day journalists are doing, daily “running into the cement wall” of Donald Trump’s ongoing war against the truth. His new film is about the Knight Ridder reporters who, in successfully questioning the post-9/11 rush to war, found their in-retrospect right-on-the-money skepticism about the George W. Bush administration’s hyperbolic justifications for attacking Iraq shunned by both politicians and their colleagues. A clip saw Reiner, playing reporter John Walcott, complaining that even Knight Ridder-owned newspapers wouldn’t run his team’s stories because they didn’t fit the rah-rah national narrative. Drawing those inevitable parallels, Reiner said, “It’s no longer an argument about policy—It’s a pitched battle in America to determine what truth is.”
As for the truth about the current president whipping up fact-averse, fear-mongering animus against brown people, 60-year acting veteran Reiner had his own insight into what he called the “bad actor” in the White House. Noting that former All In The Family faux loudmouthed bigot Archie Bunker was impressively portrayed by lifelong leftie the late Carroll O’Connor, Reiner stated that actual racist blowhard Trump needs some serious acting lessons. Imitating Trump’s one “dumb guy” voice for anyone who dares question his nonstop mudslide of racist lies and general idiocy, Reiner compared Trump’s ongoing bluster to a WWE wrestler. Colbert agreed, calling Trump’s hammy dictator act “playing to the cheapest seats.” Calling back to his one encounter with a pre-politics Trump at one of Trump’s oft-bankrupt Atlantic City casinos, Reiner noted that, even after a career spent among actors, Trump’s “all-consuming” egomania was of a magnitude he’d never experienced. (Reiner did have an anecdote about being pinned to a wall by a red-faced, furious Desi Arnaz for comparison.)