Stephen Colbert Avoids FCC Penalties for Controversial Trump Joke

'Late Show' host drew complaints, accusations of homophobia for quip about President, Vladimir Putin

Stephen Colbert will not face any FCC penalties for a controversial joke about President Trump and Vladimir Putin. Credit: CBS Photo Archive/Getty

Stephen Colbert will not face any Federal Communications Commission penalties for a controversial joke about President Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, Variety reports.

On the May 1st episode of The Late Show, Colbert unleashed a profanity-laden tirade against Trump, during which he declared, "the only thing [Trump's] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's cock holster." The joke drew accusations of homophobia, spurred a viral #FireColbert campaign and elicited numerous FCC complaints, which prompted the agency to open an investigation.

Following its investigation, the FCC released a statement, saying, "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 Bureau has concluded that there was nothing actionable under the FCC's rules."

While the FCC can take action against broadcasters for airing something deemed obscene at any time, networks are given a bit more leeway for content aired between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Also, Colbert's joke was bleeped and his mouth was blurred.

Following the #FireColbert backlash, The Late Show host said he did not regret the joke, but admitted, "I would change a few words that were cruder than they need to be." In response to the specific accusations that his joke was homophobic, Colbert added, "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."

However, the joke did inevitably evoke the ire of President Trump, who, in an interview with Time, called Colbert a "no-talent" who says "nothing funny" and uses "filthy" language. Colbert happily responded to the President, quipping, "You're not wrong, I do occasionally use adult language, and I do it in public, instead of the privacy of an Access Hollywood bus."