Right now there’s a severe overreaction to the FCC chairman’s comments about Stephen Colbert.
No, the government is not trying to muzzle one of the most famous comedians in America because he made a vulgar joke about President Trump. Colbert is not being censored.
Despite all of Friday’s social media chatter and conflicting news headlines, the FCC is doing exactly what it always does.
Following Monday’s barrage of jokes, including one that implied Trump was taking part in a sexual act with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Colbert and “The Late Show” found itself in the middle of a backlash. Trump supporters felt he had crossed the line, and others said the joke was homophobic.
On Thursday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was asked on Talk Radio 1210 WPHT if Colbert’s comments violated FCC decency rules.
“I have had a chance to see the clip now and so, as we get complaints, and we’ve gotten a number of them, 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,” Pai said.
An FCC spokesman further conveyed this point to CNNMoney: “We review all consumer complaints as a matter of standard practice and rely on the law to determine whether action is warranted. The fact that a complaint is reviewed doesn’t speak one way or another as to whether it has any merit.”
Word that the FCC is looking into Colbert’s comments may seem to some like blow back against the host for going after the president. But the FCC is just doing its job to review public complaints.
The FCC’s “safe harbor” provision, designed to protect children, seeks to prevent stations from airing indecent material before 10 p.m. From 10 p.m. until 6 a.m., a broadcaster can only be penalized for offering material that is deemed “obscene” — a significantly higher standard.