Stephen Colbert's raunchy joke about President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin engaging in a sex act is likely protected by the First Amendment, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.
"People are willing and able to say just about anything these days," Pai, appointed by Trump to head the FCC in January, told host Steve Malzberg.
Colbert, host of CBS's "The Late Show," used his Tuesday opening monologue to take aim at Trump, implying the commander in chief had engaged in fellatio with Putin.
"You talk like a sign language gorilla that got hit in the head," Colbert said of Trump. "In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster."
His remark referred to what some believe is Trump's allegedly too-cozy relationship with the Russian strongman.
Colbert also said of Trump, "Sir, you attract more skinheads than free Rogaine. You have more people marching against you than cancer."
Pai said unless the veteran comic's cracks — aired on FCC-regulated broadcast television — were deemed to be obscene, there would be no consequences.
"By and large . . . the FCC, outside of our indecency rules, we don't get into the business of regulating content," Pai said.
"What I can say is that I realize that this is a politically polarized time, and I would hope that everyone, you, can participate in the public discourse in a way that is civil and operates in good faith.
"That's certainly the way I've tried to conduct myself when I make public comments, but it's a free country."
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Pai acknowledged a 2012 U.S. Supreme Court put a limit on what the FCC could do when it comes to fining stations for indecent material.
"Under the due process clause and the First Amendment, the Supreme Court has put some limits on the FCC's regulatory ability in this area," Pai told Malzberg.
"That's one of the things we have to respect going forward as to what the court decisions have said about or legal power in this area."
Last June, the high court declined to address whether the government still has authority to regulate indecency on broadcast television.
But it ruled in favor of the Fox and ABC television networks, both of which were under the gun for airing questionable material.
In Fox's case, it involved curse words uttered by celebrities during live awards shows. ABC was under review for showing scenes of partial nudity on the acclaimed cop series "NYPD Blue."
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the FCC "failed to give Fox or ABC fair notice prior to the broadcasts in question that fleeting expletives and momentary nudity could be found actionably indecent."
Colbert is no stranger to making outrageous remarks.
In 2014, when he hosted "The Colbert Report" on Comedy Central, the show's Twitter account posted a message saying, "I am willing to show Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever."
The tweet was meant to rib Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snider, who started a charity to benefit Native Americans, but many perceived the tweet as a racist assault on Asians and Asian-Americans.
Pai — previously a senior counsel in the Justice Department and a chief counsel for the Senate Judiciary Committee during the George W. Bush Administration — also spoke to Malzberg about his mission on the FCC.
"My focus of the FCC is going to be creating an environment in which competition and infrastructure investment can thrive," Pai said. "Because ultimately a competitive marketplace is something that benefits everybody, especially in the internet economy.
"That's a message that I hope resonates with him as well as members of Congress on both sides of the aisle."
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