May 16, 2011 9:06am PT by Eriq Gardner
Why Fox News Should Fear Stephen Colbert's Visit to the Federal Election Commission (Video)
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. Based on his enormous public following, he will likely make some noise 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 gaining tens of millions of dollars across the nation, and political observers believe it was one of the reasons why 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," says Colbert. "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, as the Supreme Court suggested, will Colbert's financial influence amount to an editorial or something larger?
The FEC will have to make this decision, and the result could shape the PACs of several Fox News commentators, including Rove, who runs the big and influential American Crossroads PAC. According to Kenneth Vogel at Politico:
If nothing else, it could help the cause of campaign finance advocates by highlighting the ability of corporations to spend unlimited amounts to support or oppose candidates, and – as Lisa Gilbert of Public Citizen describes it – 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.”
Here's a video of Colbert at the FEC where he explains what he is doing: