It’s taken the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) almost a week, but they have finally seen Comedian Stephen Colbert’s profanity-laced tirade against President Trump which aired nation-wide on CBS May 1st. The agency’s chairman, Ajit Pai, said in an interview on talk-radio station WPHT-AM in Philadelphia and said:
“We are going to take the facts that we find and we are going to apply the law as it’s been set out by the Supreme Court and other courts and we’ll take the appropriate action.” It is possible that CBS, the broadcaster of Colbert’s “The Late Show,” could face a fine the chairman said.
In spite of the heat and heavy criticism Colbert’s monolog has received, he is standing by it, though he did admit that he should have been less crude. The late night talk show host was criticizing Trump for cutting short an interview with a CBS journalist. In the controversial monolog, Colbert told one joke suggesting that there was a sexual relationship between President Trump and Russian President, Vladimir Putin. The criticism that came quickly focused on the joke being vulgar and even homophobic.
The FCC is charged with regulating programming which is broadcast on television. Since “The Late Show” airs after 10 p.m., the rules are looser than shows in prime time, but the later shows are still prohibited from including obscene content. This includes overtly sexual, offensive and lacking serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. Action taken by the FCC against a broadcaster is rare, and Chairman Pai, who was selected by Trump to lead the agency, would certainly face criticism if it punishes CBS.
“We have these rules on the books that we are duty-bound to enforce — and I’m committed to enforcing them,” Pai said in the radio interview. “Broadly speaking with respect to issues like free speech on campus or keeping government out of newsrooms, I’ve consistently said First Amendment protections are important and we need to protect them.”
What do you think the FCC should do in this case? Should CBS be fined, should Colbert be fired or should the FCC just consider the crude joke free speech?
Credit: Bloomberg Markets