FCC Gets Robertson Complaints


The FCC has already received several complaints about Pat Robertson's cablecast call for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying he was contributing to Muslim extremism and breeding Communism..

An FCC staffer couldn't say how many complaints, which were still being compiled, but said she could personally attest to the fact since she had gotten two e-mails herself.

Televangelist Robertson's comments came on The 700 Club on ABC Family Monday and prompted headlines and lead stories the following day in many major media. ABC Family is contractually obligated to carry the show and quickly disavowed itself of the comments.

It is not clear the FCC has any jurisdiction over the complaint.

For the FCC to act on any alleged hate speech, it first needs to be classified as "a clear and present danger"--and thus illegal--by a court.

Even then, the FCC generally asserts that it does not have jurisdiction over cable speech, though it has applied parts of its kids TV regulations to cable, and in doing so said it was classifying it as a "broadcast licensee," for the purposes of that specific regulation.

It is likely the FCC would not do anything unless it first got the court ruling, then it would have to address the issue of jurisdiction over cable.

Robertson Wednesday apologized formally for the remarks, saying it was not right to call for the assassination, though he seemed glad all the media attention had been focused on Chavez.

Earlier in the day,  Robertson had suggested the media had misinterpreted his comments and blown them out of proportion, saying he was talking about kidnapping or some other nonlethal way of "taking out" the foreign leader.

That and the ensuing full apology prompted activist group Media Matters for America to respond:
"Will [Robertson] apologize to the news organizations he falsely accused of misinterpreting his unambiguous call for Chavez’s assassination?