These are the headlines over the weekend from NBC News, The Hill, and Slate, respectively, regarding a new FCC investigation regarding a lewd joke by NBC late night comedian Stephen Colbert. Colbert, you’ll recall, joked that President Trump was Vladimir Putin’s “c*** holster.”
There is something that these headlines seem to neglect: it is standard procedure for the FCC to investigate possible violations of regulation based on complaints. In other words, this wasn’t President Trump calling up the FCC and siccing the dogs on Colbert – it was members of the general public filing complaints with the FCC, and the FCC responding as it always does. In fact, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said last Wednesday, “The FCC – outside of our decency rules – we don’t get into the business of regulating content…it’s a free country.” He added, “People are willing and able to say anything these days…That’s one of the things we have to respect going forward, what the courts have said about our legal power in this area. By and large, unless it’s indecent, profane, obscene under our rules or as interpreted by the Supreme Court, the FCC’s authority here is pretty limited.”
Yet the rumors continue to swirl that the Fascist Trump Nightmare has arrived. Facebook and Twitter are replete with Trump opponents convinced that the First Amendment has finally met its doom, with Colbert as the first martyr:
This is outrageous. A fascist move, the order coming no doubt straight from Trump's mouth, aka Putin's cock-holster. https://t.co/daS8SNgIZ3— Jay Kuo (@nycjayjay) May 5, 2017
FCC to investigate, 'take appropriate action' on Colbert’s Trump rant. Go ahead Fascist motherfuc#er. Show yourself! https://t.co/rJbpfRAhXp— chaplinlives (@chaplinlives) May 5, 2017
An objectively fascist move by Trump. Long list of negative emotions this news evokes. https://t.co/0dPRFXxXbV— Becca (@beccathon) May 6, 2017
Don’t believe the rumors. If we’re truly worried about a crackdown on free speech, we should focus on Berkeley, where leftists have used the violent threat of Antifa to censor political opponents; Washington D.C., where Howard Dean is stating that “hate speech” isn’t protected by the First Amendment, and Democrats are attempting to stifle political spending during election season; and yes, the White House, where President Trump has said he wants to rewrite libel law. But the FCC and Stephen Colbert? Not a chance.