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The FCC isn’t actually investigating Stephen Colbert

(Photo: Getty Images/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank, Charles Sykes)

Today in a clarification that probably could’ve been made last week, the FCC has confirmed that it’s not actually “launching an investigation” into Stephen Colbert over a joke he recently made about Donald Trump on his Late Show. This comes from the The Washington Post, which got that confirmation from the FCC and quotes Georgetown University media law specialist Andrew Schwartzman as saying that the FCC will “look at” everything it receives complaints about, but that doesn’t mean it’s actually conducting a serious investigation into everything that people have an issue with.

For those who don’t recall, this whole mess started because Colbert said on his show that “the only thing” Donald Trump’s mouth is good for is “being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster”—with “cock” bleeped out. A lot of people were apparently offended and complained to the FCC, but the Washington Post story points out that The Late Show actually airs late enough that it’s not even subjected to the organization’s rules on profanity and indecency. It still has to follow the FCC’s rules on obscenity, but Schwartzman says that the joke wouldn’t have met the legal definition for that even if it had aired unbleeped.


The story goes into why it’s so difficult to classify something as legally obscene, but the main point here is that any “investigation” the FCC conducted was simply “standard operating procedure” when people complain about something on TV. Assuming you buy the FCC’s story, this means that Colbert isn’t actually getting in trouble for insulting Trump on national TV.

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