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May 5, 2017 3:45PM PT

FCC to Investigate Stephen Colbert Over Controversial Donald Trump Joke

By Joe Otterson

Joe Otterson

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FCC chairman Ajit Pai said that his agency will be looking into complaints made against Stephen Colbert for what some labeled a homophobic joke about President Donald Trump.

“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 told Philadelphia’s Talk Radio 1210 WPHT.

“Traditionally, the agency has to decide, if it does find a violation, what the appropriate remedy should be,” he continued. “A fine, of some sort, is typically what we do.” Pai was appointed to the FCC in 2012 by President Barack Obama. He was elevated to the chairmanship of the commission by Trump in January.

Pai’s comments on Colbert are surprising as “The Late Show” airs outside the FCC’s long-established “safe harbor” time frame of 6 am to 10 pm in which the commission has the authority to police allegations of indecent and obscene material on the airwaves. They would also seem to clash with Pai’s vow to maintain a lighter regulatory environment for media overall.

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Colbert faced backlash following the Monday night airing of “The Late Show,” during which he made numerous jokes about Trump during his opening monologue. Among them, he said, “The only thing [Trump’s] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c–k holster.” Colbert’s mouth was blurred and the term was bleepded out for the broadcast, however.

Viewers took to social media to declare Colbert’s joke homophobic.The hashtag #FireColbert began spreading around Twitter, along with calls for people to boycott sponsors of the late-night show.

Colbert responded to the controversy during his opening monologue on Wednesday, saying he regretted his choice of words but stopped short of an apology.

“So while I would do it again, I would change a few words that were cruder than they needed to be,” he said. “I’m not going to repeat the phrase, but 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. I think we can all agree on that. I hope even the president and I can agree on that. Nothing else. But, that.”

Also during Wednesday’s show, “Big Bang Theory” star Jim Parsons, who is himself gay, joked with Colbert about the controversy. “You taught me new terms,” Parsons said. “As a gay man, I didn’t know certain things — that’s titillating. I wouldn’t call it homophobic. That’s just my take on your good form.”

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