The FCC will not take any action in response to complaints over a May 1 broadcast of “The Late Show With Stephen Colbert,” in which the host quipped during his opening monologue that “the only thing [Trump’s] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s c— holster.”
The FCC received thousands of complaints following the broadcast. In response to an inquiry, an FCC spokesman provided a statement on the status of its review.
“Consistent with standard operating procedure, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau has reviewed the complaints and the material that was the subject of these complaints,” the FCC statement said. “The Bureau has concluded that there was nothing actionable under the FCC’s rules.”
Colbert’s remark was bleeped out of the broadcast and his mouth was blurred.
The FCC’s conclusion means that it found that Colbert’s remark did not rise to the level of obscenity or indecency to warrant any kind of sanction or fine. That appeared to be highly unlikely, given the circumstances. Broadcasters have a safe harbor for indecent or profane content between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., although they can face penalties for airing obscene content at any hour.
Several days after the broadcast, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was asked about complaints over the remarks, and he said that they would be looked into. All complaints are reviewed by the FCC, but the agency does not monitor programming.