Trump Threatens to Play the FCC Card Against NBC

 

Damn! And he was having such a good day, too…

But instead of talking about his travel-ban win in the Supreme Court or the NFL caving on anthem protests or the fact that whackjob lefties are still trying to kill the jobs created by the Keystone XL pipeline, Trump had to say this:

Gee, Mr. President, at what point is it appropriate to use the power of federal regulations to punish a media outlet for criticizing you? I think most small-government conservatives would answer “Never.” Or “Absolutely not!” Or, to be a bit more accurate, “Are you out of your mind?!”

And others would be really upset…

As with all things Trump, I assume that I’m completely wrong and that there’s a win here that I am congenitally incapable of grasping. So perhaps a pro-Trump person could explain in the comments below how a POTUS talking this way is good for conservatives, Republicans, a free press, or pretty much anything else.

Because I know how the Talk-Right currently backing Trump would have responded if, say, Nancy Pelosi had called for the return of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine.” Or how they would respond if President Obama and his administration had repeatedly attacked Fox News as “not really news.”  I know — because I watched it happen. 

So please explain to me the connection between “conservatism” and “powerful government agent threatens the use of federal regulatory power to silence his critics.”

Because it sounds an awful like what the Talk-Right used to hate about the Obama Left.

There are 53 comments.

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  1. Skyler Coolidge
    Skyler
    @Skyler

    You’re absolutely right.  But the country has already descended into madness.  Why should all the madness lean one way?  In my lifetime almost nothing has been done to stop the ever leftward march of our country into a socialist morass that would be unrecognizable to my grandparents.  I see nothing to lose at this point.

    I don’t like Trump, I would not have a beer with him.  I am afraid that he will do things I won’t like.  But he’s doing things against my enemies and that seems to be as good as it will ever get, because no one else has wanted to fight them.

    • #1
  2. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    No. There is absolutely no way to spin that. If he had suggested granting additional licenses to other companies, that would be less controversial. But there is no excuse for that tweet. Except, maybe, that he is begging for a primary challenge…

    • #2
  3. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    In the contest between Clinton and Trump, it was the experienced, rapacious political machine versus the undisciplined, often cluelessly corrupt populist. I join you in strongly condemning Trump’s tweet and those who will defend him on it. Attack the sin, not the sinner. It is so easy to crush so much of the media spew on the facts that Trump’s ad hominem attacks are both unnecessary and detrimental to his cause.

    Or, at least, what should be his cause. His actual cause is too often to bully those who insult him from his bully pulpit.

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Not for the first time I am convinced that Trump’s least favorite television show is Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

    • #4
  5. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    It’s political red meat. Both sides have used it and probably always will.

    During the U.K. voice mail hacking scandal liberal activists saw an opening to attack Fox because parent NewsCorp newspaper properties were involved. Then the Obama appointed Chairman, Julius Genachowski, intoned that he was taking it “very seriously” as did Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D – WV).

    The truth is the FCC hasn’t revoked anyone’s license since 1998  (KFCC AM Bay City, Texas) and the last group to lose it was RKO General in 1987 (They bribed foreign officials and kept a domestic slush fund for political donations.) And that took 20 years of litigation.

    Republicans have never had a stomach for the culture wars.

    • #5
  6. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    You’re right in the specific again Michael.  Just like you were right about every one of Trump’s outrageous tweets since, let’s say, June 2015.

    If the country were a small government, Madisonian collection of localities made rapt by theories of subsidiarity Trump would lose this one.

    It isn’t.  He won’t.

    There is never any threatening follow-up to these flareups but they position Trump as the vocal opponent of an unceasingly hostile mainstream liberalism.

    File this one with the Beltway conservative wig-out over revoking green cards of flag burners and the tweet for British style libel laws.  How many voters care about a Trump tweet opposing NYT v. Sullivan?  None.  Does Trump know he opposes NYT v. Sullivan?  Probably not.

    Trump may or may not have made billions in the real estate biz, but he sure knows how to live for free in Beltway heads.

     

     

    • #6
  7. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    • #7
  8. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    • #8
  9. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    No. There is absolutely no way to spin that. If he had suggested granting additional licenses to other companies, that would be less controversial. But there is no excuse for that tweet. Except, maybe, that he is begging for a primary challenge…

    Hammer, you honestly think a swaggering Trump tweet about NBC could form the basis of a primary challenge?

    Between June 16, 2015 and the GOP convention were you on a mission at the international space station?

    • #9
  10. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    • #10
  11. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    How’s he ever going to learn not to say stupid things if people don’t help him see the stupid?

    • #11
  12. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    How’s he ever going to learn not to say stupid things if people don’t help him see the stupid?

    Obama jawboned the FCC into allowing government regulation of the internet. I don’t see anything stupid about Trump’s jawboning the FCC into questioning the license renewals of purveyors of fake news.

    • #12
  13. MarciN Member
    MarciN
    @MarciN

    There’s another way to look at this. Trump is so blustery that he tells everyone what he’s doing all the time. In contrast, Obama and Clinton would say nothing and act sweetly while they, Communist government style, figured out a way to put those stations or networks that criticized them out of business permanently, never to be heard from again.

    Clinton’s and Obama’s jailing of the guy who posted the video online about Islam, blaming him for the Benghazi attack, was straight out of the average Communist’s playbook.

    As crazy as it sounds, I trust Trump more than I trust most of the Democrats I’ve known of. At least I know where he is. On Twitter! :)

    • #13
  14. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    MarciN (View Comment):
    There’s another way to look at this. Trump is so blustery that he tells everyone what he’s doing all the time. In contrast, Obama and Clinton would say nothing and act sweetly while they, Communist government style, figured out a way to put those stations or networks that criticized them out of business permanently, never to be heard from again.

    Clinton’s and Obama’s jailing of the guy who posted the video online about Islam, blaming him for the Benghazi attack, was straight out of the average Communist’s playbook.

    As crazy as it sounds, I trust Trump more than I trust most of the Democrats I’ve known of. At least I know where he is. On Twitter! :)

    Bull’s Eye Bingo.  Where’s Trump’s Sheryl Atkinson?  Where’s Trump’s James Rosen.

    This is Morning Joe/Commentary fodder (perhaps intentionally).

    • #14
  15. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    How’s he ever going to learn not to say stupid things if people don’t help him see the stupid?

    Obama jawboned the FCC into allowing government regulation of the internet. I don’t see anything stupid about Trump’s jawboning the FCC into questioning the license renewals of purveyors of fake news.

    The broadcast frequencies that the FCC controls are licensed to local broadcasters. Is he proposing shutting them down? Or he could go after them on the internet. Either is a black-letter violation of the First Amendment. The Supremes will chuckle softly, then backhand Donnie across the courtroom.

    • #15
  16. Hammer, The Member
    Hammer, The
    @RyanM

    Quake Voter (View Comment):

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    No. There is absolutely no way to spin that. If he had suggested granting additional licenses to other companies, that would be less controversial. But there is no excuse for that tweet. Except, maybe, that he is begging for a primary challenge…

    Hammer, you honestly think a swaggering Trump tweet about NBC could form the basis of a primary challenge?

    Between June 16, 2015 and the GOP convention were you on a mission at the international space station?

    No, I don’t think that there could be a primary challenge on the basis on this specific tweet alone.  But I do think that many of us – pretty much everyone at Ricochet included – voted (if at all) for Trump after it appeared that he was the last man standing, and particularly as an alternative to Clinton.  Those of us who were most hesitant (and there are maybe 2 or 3 exceptions at Ricochet) sincerely hoped that he would “mature” in office, so to speak.  That means putting down the twitter machine, opening himself up to wise counsel, and doing some good things.  I will readily acknowledge that he has done some things that we can be happy about.  But my joy over Gorsuch can only take me so far, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.  With each of these tweets, he puts weight on the other scale … and he hasn’t exactly been stacking the “good” side, lately.  It may very well be that when 2020 rolls around, conservatives have had enough of taking the bad with the good and hoping for the best.  Trump’s personal behavior has still been despicable.

    • #16
  17. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    How’s he ever going to learn not to say stupid things if people don’t help him see the stupid?

    Obama jawboned the FCC into allowing government regulation of the internet. I don’t see anything stupid about Trump’s jawboning the FCC into questioning the license renewals of purveyors of fake news.

    Because every weapon one party uses to curtail speech, however rightly, becomes a weapon available to another party for malicious ends.

    • #17
  18. Quake Voter Inactive
    Quake Voter
    @QuakeVoter

    Hammer, The (View Comment):
    But I do think that many of us – pretty much everyone at Ricochet included – voted (if at all) for Trump after it appeared that he was the last man standing, and particularly as an alternative to Clinton.

    Replace “Clinton” with “Harris”, “Sanders”, “Cuomo” or “Booker” and then ask yourself whether this tweet, or the cumulative effect of all tweets since the inauguration, will change the minds of any Trump voters in the states he won?

    Speaking as one who voted reluctantly for Trump to one who did not.

    You’re flinging around adjectives like despicable like Podhoretz.

    Disappointing?  Sure.

    What’s the list of despicable cabinet and judicial appointments, regulatory actions or policy proposals Hammer, by the way?

    • #18
  19. Gumby Mark Thatcher
    Gumby Mark
    @GumbyMark

    I enjoy hearing about fake news from the guy who claimed Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in the JFK assassination.

    C’mon folks.  How hard is it to just admit when Trump gets something wrong like this?

    • #19
  20. Guruforhire Member
    Guruforhire
    @Guruforhire

    EJHill (View Comment):
    Republicans have never had a stomach for the culture wars.

    The thing is conservatives keep trying to get on ships that have sailed, and are floating around in a sea of unreality desperately trying to find the casino.

    They have all the right answers for a nation that doesn’t exist, and never will again.

    • #20
  21. formerlawprof Coolidge
    formerlawprof
    @formerlawprof

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    Obama jawboned the FCC into allowing government regulation of the internet. I don’t see anything stupid about Trump’s jawboning the FCC into questioning the license renewals of purveyors of fake news.

    It was on the tip of my tongue, but now I can’t bring it to mind. Who is it that decides which news is and is not fake? Let’s see . . . it can’t be any government agency or actor, because that would violate the First Amendment. So it must be . . . damn! Lost it again.

    • #21
  22. DocJay Inactive
    DocJay
    @DocJay

    It’s too vague for me to gauge the level of stupidity.

    Any particular fake news he was attending to here?

    The never ending assault upon him is likely annoying,  even to him.  He faces a number of extremely sinister forces which seemingly have free reign to cheat and lie

    The man has thin skin and his worst tweets relate to personal attacks that are untrue or just partially true.    It’s a defect that occasionally yields positive results but is often cringe worthy.

    I hate the lying news media but shutting down their voice is an offensive thought.

    • #22
  23. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    I have the feeling that if someone told President Trump that there used to be a Fairness Doctrine, , he would want to bring it back. Because Fairness. We need to be fair, okay? So we’re going to be fair. Very fair.

    You can shrug and say “it’s a tweet, whatever, no surprise, it’s what he does” but I heard a number of callers on talk radio today say well heck yes, why not regulate the First Amendment? They regulate the Second. So to protest the encroachments on one Constitutional provision, they approve of the encroachments on another. Brilliant.

     

    • #23
  24. James Lileks Contributor
    James Lileks
    @jameslileks

    Gumby Mark (View Comment):
    I enjoy hearing about fake news from the guy who claimed Ted Cruz’s dad was involved in the JFK assassination.

    If a network accurately reports something the President said that was demonstrably false, can their license be revoked for passing along Fake News?

    • #24
  25. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    Must be, given the way this is being spun on Ricochet.

    Me, I think he was trolling them and boy do I love to see them trolled.

    Why, the hyperventilation here is remarkable to behold.

    In other words, I didn’t take him literally. Nor should you.

    • #25
  26. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    DocJay (View Comment):
    Any particular fake news he was attending to here?

    NBC (the same people who killed the Weinstein story with 8 on camera interviews as ‘not sourced enough’) presented that President Trump wanted to increase the country’s nuclear arsenal by 1000%. With only an anonymous source. Who wasn’t willing to go on film.

    • #26
  27. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Michael Graham: So please explain to me the connection between “conservatism” and “powerful government agent threatens the use of federal regulatory power to silence his critics.”

    So, think this through with me, taking the president literally.

    • President gets the FCC to deny news stations a license renewal because disseminating democrat propaganda isn’t in the public interest.
    • The backlash from this high-handed intervention causes  two events to occur, the impeachment and removal of the president AND a re-look at the power of the FCC.
    • The FCC power is scaled back because neither side wants to use the nuclear option again
    • Small government (and conservativism) wins again!

    No one claims that President Trump is a conservative. He has acted in support of conservative principles during his tenure so far.

    While mercilessly trolling the intelligentsia/elites.

    To my everlasting delight.

     

    • #27
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Instugator (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    Must be, given the way this is being spun on Ricochet.

    Me, I think he was trolling them and boy do I love to see them trolled.

    Why, the hyperventilation here is remarkable to behold.

    In other words, I didn’t take him literally. Nor should you.

    If Trump wants to call out the fake news for being fake news, that’s fine. If he wants to “hit back” by abrogating the Constitution, that is not. Moron tweets shall be called out for being moron tweets.

    • #28
  29. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    I think Trump, by citing “fake news,” was aiming at the “public interest” part of the FCC’s legal authority to grant (or deny) broadcasting licenses to individual stations..

    It doesn’t matter what he was aiming at. He hit the foot in his mouth.

    Is disseminating “fake news” in the “public interest”?

    How’s he ever going to learn not to say stupid things if people don’t help him see the stupid?

    Obama jawboned the FCC into allowing government regulation of the internet. I don’t see anything stupid about Trump’s jawboning the FCC into questioning the license renewals of purveyors of fake news.

    The broadcast frequencies that the FCC controls are licensed to local broadcasters. Is he proposing shutting them down? Or he could go after them on the internet. Either is a black-letter violation of the First Amendment. The Supremes will chuckle softly, then backhand Donnie across the courtroom.

    Congress only allows the grant of broadcast licenses to stations that meet the “public interest, convenience and necessity” standard. To the extent that a station (e.g., a NBC network affiliate) fails to operate in such a manner, the FCC is empowered to revoke its license or deny license renewal.  Now, there may be good and sufficient reasons why doing this based on allegations of “fake news” is bad policy, but it’s far from a “stupid” threat or a black-letter violation of the First Amendment. As far as I know, the courts have generally upheld the constitutionality of the FCC’s authority to regulate broadcast content. For example, the Fairness Doctrine and Equal Time Rule, although withdrawn by the FCC, were never found to be unconstitutional. The FCC’s Indecency Standard is still in effect.

    • #29
  30. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    formerlawprof (View Comment):

    Basil Fawlty (View Comment):
    Obama jawboned the FCC into allowing government regulation of the internet. I don’t see anything stupid about Trump’s jawboning the FCC into questioning the license renewals of purveyors of fake news.

    It was on the tip of my tongue, but now I can’t bring it to mind. Who is it that decides which news is and is not fake? Let’s see . . . it can’t be any government agency or actor, because that would violate the First Amendment. So it must be . . . damn! Lost it again.

    The FCC is a government agency.  Congress has authorized it to regulate broadcast content for years and the courts have generally upheld its authority to do so.

    • #30

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