A brief history of late-night hosts apologizing

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BEVERLY HILLS, CA – OCTOBER 13: Host James Corden speaks onstage during the amfAR Gala Los Angeles 2017 at Ron Burkle’s Green Acres Estate on October 13, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for FIJI Water)

#MeToo teaches James Corden a lesson

The Late Late Show host James Corden is having a moment, riding the success of Carpool Karaoke to the big screen, scoring a sweet Keurig spokesman deal and even nabbing an invite to the royal wedding. He’s so omnipresent these days, you may have forgotten one relatively small gig last year that spawned a big backlash.

Nearly a week after the Harvey Weinstein story broke, Corden hosted the annual amfAR gala in Beverly Hills. One sentence into his opening monologue and he was already in trouble.

“This is a beautiful room, this is a beautiful night here in L.A.,” he told gala guests. “It is so beautiful that Harvey Weinstein has already asked tonight up to his hotel room to give him a massage.” Ignoring the crowd’s audible discomfort, he inexplicably chose to make another tasteless Weinstein joke involving hot water and a potted plant.

The #MeToo movement was in its infant stage, but that didn’t hinder widespread outrage, led by actress Rose McGowan. A victim of Weinstein’s alleged crimes, she took to Twitter to call him out. Others accused him of showing his “true colors,” “minimizing trauma,” and speaking “vile trash.” You know it’s bad when both Page Six and Anthony Bourdain call you out.

Quick to own up to his mistake, backed by a history of supporting important women’s issues, and bolstered by his own affable personality, his apology felt genuinely sincere and comments tone-deaf, not malicious. It was likely a failed attempt at “edgy” comedy that resulted in a harsh but much-needed lesson on how we talk about abuse.