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FCC to investigate, 'take appropriate action' on Colbert’s Trump rant
Late night talk show host Stephen Colbert's controversial joke about President Trump drew the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. The agency received "a number" of complaints about Colbert's commentary earlier in the week, according to the FCC's chief.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai promised to "take the appropriate action" following a comprehensive investigation of Colbert's remarks.
The FCC's response will depend on whether Colbert's remarks are considered "obscene."
"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," he told Talk Radio 1210 WPHT Thursday.
"Traditionally, the agency has to decide, if it does find a violation, what the appropriate remedy should be," he said. "A fine, of some sort, is typically what we do."
Broadcast television is governed by different rules depending on the time of day, Pai said Wednesday, prior to viewing Colbert's comments.
The FCC flags speech it considers "indecent" before 10 p.m., he told Fox Business Network, and looks for "obscene" content after that point. Colbert's "The Late Show" airs at 11:35 p.m. ET on CBS.
The agency's website states that content must meet a three-tier Supreme Court test to be labeled "obscene."
"It must appeal to an average person's prurient interest; depict or describe sexual conduct in a 'patently offensive' way; and, taken as a whole, lack serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value," it reads.
Colbert on Monday unleashed a flood of insults at Trump, satirizing an interview with CBS news the president cut short the day before.
"The only thing your mouth is good at is being [Russian President] Vladimir Putin's c-k holster," he said of Trump.
Colbert on Wednesday defended his joke amid fierce backlash online.
"I don't regret that," he said. "[Trump], I believe, can take care of himself. I have jokes; he has the launch codes. So, it's a fair fight."