The FCC has announced that it will not pursue punishment over Stephen Colbert’s controversial joke about Donald Trump.
In a statement, the FCC explained:
“Consistent with standard operating procedure, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has reviewed the complaints and the material that was the subject of these complaints. The Bureau has concluded that there was nothing actionable under the FCC’s rules.”
The material in question occurred during Colbert’s May 1st episode of The Late Show, in which the late night host said of Trump, “The only thing his mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c-ck holster.”
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) May 1, 2017
The FCC announced that they received more than 5,700 complaints about the joke, including concerns about “indecency, hate speech and homophobia.”
Broadcast attorney David Oxenford published a blog post explaining why Colbert’s comment would most likely pass the FCC’s indecency test:
“A television program like that in question here is never going to be found obscene — the words describing the specific sexual act itself was bleeped out of the broadcast, the description was not designed to appeal to prurient interests (sexual interests — it was not delivered in such an explicit way as to appeal solely to sexual interest), and it did have social significance — it was delivered in a politically motivated statement. Under these circumstances, the extremely rigorous obscenity test simply would not be met.”
While the far-right media has tried to make a mountain out of a molehill with regard to Colbert’s joke, today’s verdict rightly shows that the comedian was well within his limits. It probably didn’t hurt either that there was a degree of accuracy to his statement.
Brian Tyler Cohen is a political writer, actor, and comedy sketch director. He graduated from Lehigh University with a dual degree in English and Business. He currently lives in Los Angeles.