Stephen Colbert could put Fox News in bind
BY ERIQ GARDNER May 18, 2011 6:08PM
Stephen Colbert is swept by a security officer as he enters the Federal Election Commission on Friday. | Alex Brandon~ap
Updated: June 22, 2011 6:51PM
Stephen Colbert might be on the verge of creating quite a headache for Fox News and its contributors, including Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee and Karl Rove.
On Friday, the Comedy Central host was at the Federal Election Commission to file paperwork on his new “Colbert Super-PAC” and find out whether he can promote his political action committee on “The Colbert Report” or whether it will be considered a campaign contribution from the network’s parent company, Viacom.
Colbert intends to raise quite a bit of money through his “Colbert Super-PAC” to run commercials in the next election cycle.
But the move is dripping with ramifications.
In 2010, the U.S. Supreme Court nixed federal laws that limited corporations from donating unlimited money to candidates and political causes. Many Republicans began taking advantage of the development by acquiring tens of millions of dollars, and political observers believe it was one of the reasons the party was able to take back the House of Representatives.
Colbert now wants to do the same, explaining he believes in the American Dream. “And that dream is simple,” he says. “That anyone, no matter who they are, if they are determined, if they are willing to work hard enough, someday they could grow up to create a legal entity which could then receive unlimited corporate funds, which could be used to influence our elections.”
The only thing standing in his way is whether the money will be classified as coming from Viacom, which doesn’t want to get so involved in the politicking, or whether it would be deemed under the old rules as a “media exception,” which allows those on television, on the radio or in print to urge voters in a direction. In other words, if giving money is akin to free speech, will Colbert’s financial influence amount to an editorial or something larger?
The FEC’s decision could shape the PACs of several Fox News commentators.
As Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen puts it at politico.com, it could expose “the clear conflict of interest that Fox media has as they allow political figures to promote their PACs on a supposedly neutral media outlet.”