Skip to comments.Stephen Colbert Should Hire a Good Lawyer
Posted on 05/02/2017 4:38:18 PM PDT by ckinv368
There comes a time within the bounds of human decency and national consciousness where the populace needs to stand up and declare that enough is enough. With regard to the political discourse in America, that time is now.
On the evening of May 1, late-night talk show host Stephen Colbert decided to push well beyond the confines of acceptable political dialogue. When speaking of Trumps first 100 days in office, he dove deep into the realm of crass, witless, maliciously defamatory humor that is neither acceptable within our honorable society nor protected by the Constitution of the United States. In a twelve-minute monologue directed at President Trump himself, and watched by the nation, Colbert:
alluded to President Trump being mentally handicapped on several occasions; strangely indicated that the Trump Administration would be fine with Hitlers policies; called President Trump a disgrace; made several derogatory and sexually charged remarks about the Presidents genitalia; stated the President was the bloatus, the glutton with the button, a regular gorge Washington; stated that President Trump was the presi-dunce, and was turning into a real prick-tator; said President Trump attract[ed] more skinheads than free Rogaine; and has more people marching against [him] than cancer; alleged President Trump talk[ed] like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head.
Not to be outdone by his previous round of insults, Colbert finished out his monologue by stating in fact, the only thing [Trumps] mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putins . . . followed by his use of a graphic and derogatory homophobic slur to finish out his thought.
Im all for political humor in this country, and recognize that President Trump, as a public figure, has a huge Constitutionally-protected target on his back. The Supreme Court, beginning in 1964 with the seminal case New York Times v. Sullivan, agrees. However, Colberts monologue went well beyond the protected limits of political speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Aside from being shocking and in extremely poor taste, I believe Mr. Colberts statements were actionable and legally indefensible.
In Sullivan, the Supreme Court recognized the general proposition that freedom of expression upon public questions is secured by the First Amendment, and stated that such a proposition has long been settled. Sullivan, 376 U.S. at 270. The Court held that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials. Sullivan, at 270. When involving public officials, the Court held that neither factual error nor defamatory content suffices to remove the constitutional shield from criticism of official conduct, and that the combination of the two elements is no less inadequate. Sullivan, at 273.
While the Court gave great latitude to the New York Times in Sullivan, it didnt give The Times a blank check to defame at will. Instead, the Court carved out from First Amendment protection statements made with actual malicethat is, with knowledge that [the statement] was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. Sullivan, at 279-80. Congressman James Madison once said the censorial power is in the people over the Government, and not in the Government over the people. Sullivan, at 275. But, in Sullivan, the Court recognized that such censorial power has its parameters, outside of which falls an untrue utterance made with actual malice, and with the knowledge that it was false. Mr. Colbert appears to have soared through that limit.
There can be no denying that Mr. Colberts monologue contained knowingly false accusations. Most of his statementswhile made from a seeming locus of factwere both hugely offensive and ludicrous in their factual absurdity. But, equally telling from the video itself was Mr. Colberts admission of actual malicehis statement that he would be happy to trade insults with the President of the United States to his face. It is not difficult to establish actual malice in a defamation context when the speaker admits to the same in front of tens-of-millions of people. Different from the offensive caricature of the Rev. Jerry Falwell depicted in a clearly-noted ad parody upheld by the Court in Hustler v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988), Mr. Colberts speech was meant to be taken as fact, was knowingly false, and was delivered in a malicious and purposeful manner. In short, Mr. Colbert went past the protections the First Amendment provides to comedians and other satirists, and should be taken to task for his actions.
Now, I really do get it. Stephen Colbert doesnt like President Trump. But, there are lots of people that dont like President Trump. Just like roughly ½ of the Country did not like President Obama throughout the eight years of his presidency. Even with these strong feelings, when we allow crass, defamatory, inane, tactless and Constitutionally-unprotected comments to cloud the national consciousness when it comes to our political discourse, we are the worse for it. Theres a reason weve moved past the days of beatings on the floor of the House of Representatives and duels being held between Congressmen. Weve grown and matured as a country. We may not always agree with our leaders, but they ARE our leaders nonetheless. They deserve some semblance of even grudging respect. Its a pity that those with such a commanding voice in our society do not understand that such privilege is intertwined with the obligation to comport themselves with a modicum of decency. Choosing to recreate the past with verbal sparring and disparaging insults is neither a sound legal maneuver, nor good for the country. Mr. Colbert may come to learn that in a very personal way.
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No - just organize a boycott like the left did with O’Reilly and force the advertisers to stop sponsoring his show.
Kick him off the air using their same tactics.
Cant stand that unfunny political twerp.
IS Stephen Colbert supposed to be funny? What gets me is the canned applause? Is the audience drunk?
Not gonna happen.
Sounds great but, we don’t know how to do what you are suggesting
I saw his show once; he came out kicking up his legs like the Rockettes and danced with a black man. You want to talk about gay?
Trump should invite Colbert to the White House...When he gets him there, tell him it is being recorded, then ask him what he said about his mouth and Putin and get it on camera...
What I’m suggesting is that Trump likely can, and possibly should, sue him for defamation. A big award/settlement (say, $10 million) will stop others from being so ridiculous and will calm the discourse down.
And, I agree with some other commentators-—would be great if advertisers boycotted his show (although I’m sure they won’t—never happens with liberals).
He'd lose. Parody is protected. Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell, 485 U.S. 46 (1988)
Nothing will happen to him, because he’s a leftist and he’s allowed to use gay slurs and trash our President..heck I bet CBS gives that douche bag a raise
His audience consists of far left Commie loons who despise America, of course they adore him
An earthworm curses an eagle soaring 3000 feet above.
Can the eagle withstand this?
I agree with your idea of going after Colbert with a defamation lawsuit, but I don’t think the President will do it.
I believe he’ll ignore the crass little punk, and enjoy a bit of private schadenfreud when Colbert’s ratings slip.
Surprised that anyone caught it ... must have been the last CNN viewers that switched channels to his show.
Perhaps a suspension of the network’s license for a few days (or a week) is in order. Hit them in the bank account and they’ll make sure a repeat doesn’t happen.
Is it worth the publicity Trump would be giving this ant? The left would rally behind him. Probably nominate him for president.
Not so sure I agree with you on that front. In Falwell, the Supreme Court focused on the fact that the fake “ad” for Campari that was the parody making fun of Falwell (alleging he had a drunken incestuous relationship with his mother in an outhouse) had a disclaimer at the bottom clearly stating that the “ad” should not be taken seriously, and was not, in fact, real.
If you watch the video of Colbert, it seems that he actually moves from satire early in the monologue to a political commentary where he’s knowingly and maliciously using falsehoods to defame the character of the President. Around the 10:30 mark, when things get salty, all real semblance of satire seems gone from the speech—including where Colbert says he’s not afraid to insult the President to his face.
This jerk just oozes hate, viciousness etc. If I forget and leave CBS on after local news is over, I scramble for the remote to squelch him no matter who his guests are going to be.
Didn’t think it would be possible for CBS to inflict someone worse than Letterman on the American people but boy was I wrong.
If he’d said any of that about Obama he would have been fired. The only thing the network may ask him to do is apologize to homosexuals for making a negative reference to gay sex.
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