Stephen Colbert told a tale of two hacks on Thursday’s Late Show, starting with new reports that Russian hackers have launched cyber-attacks on Covid-19 research centers in the US, UK and Canada. “So the Russians are getting America’s coronavirus data? Could they share it with us?” he joked.
The hackers reportedly attempted to steal data on coronavirus vaccine research, which means “if they’re successful, it’s only a matter of time before we start getting spammed for bootleg coronavirus cures,” said Colbert.
But the Russian story was only the “second biggest” hack of the week, behind the great Twitter breach of 2020, in which hackers propagating a bitcoin scam (“if you’re not familiar, a bitcoin scam is anything involving bitcoin,” Colbert reminded) took over the accounts of such highly followed figures as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Kanye West and others. In response, Twitter froze activity on all blue-checked, verified accounts for several hours on Wednesday, which afflicted more than just celebrities; when the National Weather Service declared a tornado watch for parts of southern Illinois, for example, the agency’s verified regional Twitter account was unable to post a warning to residents.
Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, responded to the fiasco with a tweet: “We all feel terrible this happened,” he wrote. “Fun fact,” Colbert pointed out, “‘we all feel terrible this happened’ is Twitter’s official motto.”
On the Daily Show, Trevor Noah also investigated the most visible and widespread Twitter breach in the company’s history. Twitter on a normal day is “Trump’s longest-serving press secretary”, said Noah, and a “place where people can share ideas with each other while also getting yelled at by neo-Nazis”.
But Wednesday was not normal, as unidentified hackers infiltrated the accounts of some of the platform’s most popular users … except Donald Trump. Twitter released a statement confirming the president’s account was not hacked, “but how would they know?” asked Noah. “I mean, this is the same guy who tweets about beans, Iran and the Confederacy in the span of 10 minutes. He pre-hacks himself. The only way you’d know if a hack got Trump is if the spelling is correct.”
Meanwhile, as his re-election campaign flails, Trump demoted his campaign manager, Brad Parscale, this week, though Noah doubted this would help his sagging poll numbers. “If you ask me, this guy’s not the problem – he’s a scapegoat,” said Noah. “Donald Trump’s campaign isn’t struggling because of his campaign manager. It’s struggling because Donald Trump is the candidate.
“So condolences to Brad Parscale, but you should be really proud of yourself, man,” Noah added. “Because at this point, getting out of the Trump campaign without getting into prison? That’s an achievement.”
“Given that the country is currently on fire after a once-in-a-century cataclysm inflamed by the president’s cruelty and incompetence, he’s had some trouble coming up with a solid re-election message,” said Seth Meyers on Thursday’s Late Night. “It’s never a great sign when your own campaign manager is advertising face masks with your name on them.”
Trump may have hyped his campaign during another press conference this week, in which he fired Parscale, but “generally speaking, things are not going great when you’re firing your campaign manager 100 days before the election,” said Meyers. “That’s like a jockey jumping off his horse in the home stretch and deciding to run the rest of the way.
“Trump’s campaign is sputtering because the coronavirus crisis isn’t a problem Trump can just BS his way out of,” he added. “It’s a real thing, with real consequences, and the only way to make those go away is by governing, which is just not in his skillset.”
And on the Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon also addressed the massive Twitter hack, which spammed and then silenced numerous celebrity accounts. “Don’t worry, it was just practice for the election,” Fallon deadpanned.
“You know Trump’s furious because they attacked the biggest accounts on Twitter and didn’t even include him,” he added. “Turns out Trump’s account didn’t get hacked because it has extra security – Trump has to type in a password, do an eye scan, and then insert two Goya beans at the same time.”
Demoting Parscale was a bold move, said Fallon, but “meanwhile, everyone else in the campaign is thinking, ‘yeah … he’s the problem?”