Just when you thought that Donald Trump was done — at least for the day— attacking the news media, the erratic president doubled down on his earlier rant, now calling for the licenses of all network news to be “challenged and, if appropriate, revoked.”
“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” Trump tweeted Wednesday night.
Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
Trump has been openly hostile towards the media, referring to all negative coverage of his administration as “fake news” on multiple occasions and even going so far as to label the media as the “enemy of the American people.”
This escalation is the latest bombardment in Trump’s assault on the free press.
“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write. And people should look into it,” Trump said to the media earlier today.
Not satisfied, he followed up with an angry tweet saying, “with all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”
It’s unclear how Trump would be able to revoke broadcast licenses for any of the major networks simply because he disagrees with the content they air.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which oversees licensing, is an independent agency in the federal government and isn’t required to follow orders directly from the White House.
Responding to Mr. Trump’s musing about revoking licenses for broadcast networks critical of him, FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel responded even more simply, tweeting a link to an FCC fact sheet with the caption “Not how it works.”
Legal experts agree that Trump does not have the constitutional authority to revoke the licenses of networks even if he tried. Many have spoken out in defense of press freedom.
“It is contrary to this fundamental right for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license simply because of a disagreement with the reporting of a journalist,” said Gordon Smith, chief executive of the National Association of Broadcasters.