The Roots, Jimmy Fallon's Late Night house band, are mired in controversy this week after having a little fun at Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann's expense. The Philadelphia hip-hop crew played a small snippet of Fishbone's "Lyin' Ass Bitch" as the Congresswoman was introduced during the Tuesday night telecast. The familiar "La La La La La" refrain of the 1985 punk funk classic presumably didn't catch Bachmann's ear as she sat down for the interview. A few minutes of typical late-night peppy chatter followed without controversy.
Viewers, however, quickly noticed the tongue-in-cheek song choice and took to twitter to either revel in the hilarity or petition NBC to cancel the program immediately. Jimmy Fallon played along at first, tweeting that Roots bandleader Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson was "Grounded" for the stunt, but changed his tune pretty quickly after realizing that the controversy was not going to go away without comment. In a now common round of Twitter contrition, he followed up by saying:
“I’m honored that @michelebachmann was on our show yesterday and I’m so sorry about the intro mess. I really hope she comes back." Later, he tweeted, “Actually it was a really fun interview. She helped me with my Minnesota accent. (I still sound Irish.)”
This is certainly not the first time that Questlove has thrown a hidden message into the customary band introduction. While introducing pundit Lou Dobbs, the band played "Illegal Alien", an obscure Genesis song. Perhaps most hilariously, they played a portion of the UB40 smash "Red, Red Wine" to introduce Kathi Lee Gifford, a noted wine enthusiast.
For his part, Questlove seems content to fall on his own sword, saying that "The show was not aware of it and I feel bad if her feelings were hurt. That was not my intention."
Will it be enough to call off the comedy police? Not if fellow Congresswoman Nita Lowey has anything to say about it. She has released a statement of her own on the matter, which reads in part:
“The choice of song to introduce Michele Bachmann on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon last night was insulting and inappropriate. I do not share Michele Bachmann’s politics, but she deserves to be treated with respect. No female politician, and no woman, should be subjected to sexist and offensive innuendo like she was last night. The Roots, Jimmy Fallon, and NBC should apologize.”
Barney Frank could not be reached for comment at press time.