Stephen Colbert medical emergency conspiracy

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Stephen Colbert’s medical emergency becomes conspiracy fodder

The conspiracies ranged from being harmed by the COVID vaccine to being put in front of a military tribunal.


Mikael Thalen


Posted on Dec 5, 2023   Updated on Dec 6, 2023, 7:43 am CST

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Conspiracy theorists are conjuring up an endless supply of outrageous claims after late night TV host Stephen Colbert announced last week that he had experienced a medical emergency.

In a post on Threads, Colbert, host of The Late Show, stated that an issue with his appendix had forced him to cancel that week’s show.

“Sorry to say that I have to cancel our shows this week,” Colbert wrote. “I’m sure you’re thinking, ‘Turkey overdose, Steve? Gravy boat capsize?’ Actually, I’m recovering from surgery for a ruptured appendix.”

Colbert, who is widely disliked by far-right conspiracy theorists for his opposition to former President Donald Trump, was quickly accused of a cover-up.

In countless comments across social media, users speculated that Colbert had either been harmed by the COVID-19 vaccine or been put in front of a military tribunal for his imagined crimes against humanity.

The conspiracy theorists glossed over the mentions of Colbert’s appendix and instead shared clips of the host advocating for the inoculation.

“Stephen Colbert is cancelling shows due to health concerns….do you think???” one anti-vax user wrote.

Another anti-vaxxer alleged, without evidence, that Colbert had recently received a booster shot

“Stephen Colbert’s appendix burst following a Covid-19 booster,” the user proclaimed. “The most egregious vaccine zealot in the country is recovering from his meeting with karma. Let this be a lesson to the nation to avoid this toxic trash (both the shot & this “entertainer”).”

The QAnon crowd pointed out that Colbert had previously poked fun at the PizzaGate conspiracy theory and suggested that his cancellation was somehow linked.

“Colbert is sick in the head but sick in the hospital? Doubt it!” a user on X said.

Other conspiracy theorists posted an article from a notorious misinformation website and claimed that Colbert was currently being grilled by a “U.S. Navy JAG investigator on Guam” over his “ties to the Plandemic” and deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein.

“Someone sent me this article saying that Stephen Colbert is being investigated by JAG and a whole lot of fictitious nonsense along with it,” one user said. “This is how deep the Q rabbit hole is. JAG wouldn’t be investigating a private citizen.”

As should be obvious, there is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that Colbert is being deceptive about his medical issue. There is no evidence Colbert’s appendix was negatively affected by the COVID vaccine. And there is zero chance that Colbert is being interrogated by the U.S. military somewhere.

Why it matters

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, conspiracy theorists have leapt to blame any and every medical issue on the shot. Even when it’s confirmed that the injury is unrelated, the anti-vax crowd always finds a way to move the goalpost.

The attention on Colbert is unsurprising. As a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump, Colbert has earned himself a bad reputation among the conspiratorial MAGA crowd. Any other celebrities against Trump will likely receive the same negative attention if they experience medical issues of their own.

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*First Published: Dec 5, 2023, 6:00 am CST