With a strike averted at the last minute last week, the WGA today struck up a defense of Stephen Colbert against the FCC’s so-called investigation of last week’s scathing and lewd late-night monologue against President Donald Trump.
“As presidents of the Writers Guilds of America, East and West, we were appalled to read recent remarks by Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai,” said WGA East boss Michael Winship and WGA West chief Howard Rodman this morning. “He said the FCC would investigate a joke about Donald Trump by Writers Guild member Stephen Colbert, ‘apply the law’ and ‘take appropriate action’ if the joke were found to be ‘obscene,'” the duo added of the FCC chair’s May 5 response in a radio interview.
In what could have been his last show in a while if the WGA had gone on strike in the early hours of May 2, the initial monologue by Colbert on May 1 was a repeatedly bleeped on-air response to Trump having insulted CBS newsman John Dickerson during an interview broadcast earlier that morning.
While Pai might have seemed to relish giving Colbert some heat, the chairman never actually used the word “investigation.” The fact is the FCC is obliged to review every complaint it receives and that process is no indication of its “merit,” to use a term from the federal agency.
Still, the WGA is bicoastally peeved, to say the least.
“Pai’s remarks are just the latest in a series of statements by the current administration indicating a willful disregard of the First Amendment. Colbert was poking fun at authority — a time-honored American tradition and an essential principle of democracy,” Winship and Rodman went on to say about their multi-Emmy-winning guild member. “What is obscene is not what Colbert said but any attempt by the government to stifle dissent and creativity. Our unions vehemently support Colbert and his writers and will fight for his or any individual’s right to publicly express his or her opinion of our elected officials.”
After taking social media fire with #FireColbert trending, the CBS late-night host himself admitted last week that maybe he’d gone a little too hard in what he said about the former Celebrity Apprentice host and current POTUS. “So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” Colbert made clear at the top of his May 3 show. “Now, I’m not going to repeat the phrase. I just want to say, for the record: Life is short, and anyone who expresses their love for another person, in their own way, is, to me, an American hero. And I think we can all agree on that. I hope even the president and I can agree on that. Nothing else – but, that.”
You can check out what Colbert actually said on May 1 here.