The FCC says it has received complaints about Stephen Colbert’s Monday Late Show monologue on Donald Trump and is looking into those complaints, using “standard operations procedures, as we always do.”
Programs that air on broadcast TV stations before 10 PM are subject to fine if the FCC determines they are “indecent.” Colbert’s show, however, airs in late-night, when the threshold is “obscene,” which the FCC defines as content that “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.”
Monday’s fiery monologue was plastered by some as inappropriately vulgar, by others as homophobic. It had been Colbert’s on-air response to Trump having insulted CBS newsman John Dickerson during an interview broadcast that morning. Among the president’s on-air remarks, he accused the Face The Nation host of disseminating fake news, calling the program Deface The Nation.
“Let me introduce you to something we call the Tiffany Way,” Colbert told Trump, in absentia, that night. “When you insult one member of the CBS family you insult us all.”
Then Colbert returned the favor with a series of increasingly Rabelaisian insults, the last of which viewers heard as:
“You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s [bleep] holster.” In addition to bleeping the word, CBS blurred Colbert’s mouth – no lip-reading possible.
Should the agency decide Colbert’s monologue hits its “obscenity” threshold, “a fine, of some sort, is typically what we do,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai told CBS Radio’s right-wing talk outlet WPHT Philadelphia.