Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert is getting shredded on social media for his bit about Ronald Reagan in hell with demons “dancing around” him and “chanting” that the former president “should’ve addressed the AIDS crisis.”

What are the details?

The host of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on Wednesday’s episode ripped Republican politicians — and “independent, nonpartisan journalists” at Fox News — over U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy repeatedly failing to garner enough votes to become the new speaker of the House.

At one point the Colbert show played a clip of a frustrated Sean Hannity on Fox News wondering what Reagan would say about the ongoing drama on Capitol Hill.

With that, a delighted Colbert reacted by doing what the Hollywood Reporter characterized as an impression of Reagan being “awoken from the dead”:

Uh, where am I? Everything was so dark for so long, and then there were these demons dancing around me chanting … “you should have addressed the AIDS crisis when you had the chance.” Then I woke up all of a sudden. Mommy!

As his audience dutifully laughed, clapped, and cheered, Colbert grimaced and seemingly mimicked poking Reagan with a pitchfork.

Here’s the clip:

How are folks reacting?

Given the audience reaction to Colbert’s impression of Reagan, no doubt there are many out there who also loved it. But others felt quite differently:

  • “What a scumbag Colbert is,” one commenter said.
  • “Colbert is an ignorant fool,” another user declared.
  • “He’ll find out what hell is about soon enough,” another user opined. “I doubt he’ll see Reagan there, though.”
  • “Has he ever spoken to his good buddy Tony Fauci about his role in the early days of the AIDS crisis?” another commenter wondered.
  • “Of course, this is an utter lie that was used to smear Reagan, but I guess the historically ignorant love to prove how truly ignorant they are,” another wrote.

On that note, a link to an article on the Independent Gay Forum Culture Watch — originally published in 2003 for National Review Online — showed up in the comments as well. “The Truth about Reagan and AIDS” makes a case that the narrative that Reagan “did nothing, or worse, about AIDS and hated gays, to boot, are both tired, left-wing lies about an American legend.”

A later author’s note on the article also contests a widely held “myth” that Reagan never uttered the acronym “AIDS” until 1987 when he actually did so during a 1985 press conference. In addition, the author’s note asserts that “total federal HIV/AIDS expenditures grew from $0 to $5.727 billion” under Reagan, which “belies the notion that he ‘did nothing’ about this vicious disease.”

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