Trump Threatens NBC License, Blasts ‘Disgusting’ Free Press
President Donald Trump denied claiming a larger US nuclear arsenal and asked whether FCC licenses should be taken from NBC television stations after the network posted an article Wednesday saying it had done so in a “one meeting with military and security officials.
“It’s frankly disgusting how the press can write what they want to write and people should think about it,” Trump told the White House press with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump’s denial was backed by a statement by Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis. “Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the United States nuclear arsenal are absolutely false,” Mattis said. “This kind of misrepresentation is irresponsible.”
NBC said Trump made comments about the arsenal at a meeting with his national security advisers on July 20 and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called him a “moron” after leaving the session.
Trump first pitched a refusal on Twitter early Wednesday, then raised the possibility of challenging FCC licenses. NBCUniversal, the network’s parent company, is owned by Comcast Corp. “With all the bogus news coming out of NBC and networks, when is it appropriate to challenge your license? Bad for the country!” He wrote in a tweet.
The president called the threat Wednesday night and said on Twitter that “the news on the network has become so partisan, distorted and false that licenses need to be challenged and, if necessary, overturned.” Not just the public!
Shares of Comcast fell slightly after Trump’s tweet, 0.7 percent, to $ 37.41 at 10:28 a.m. In New York. Can Trump really stop NBC? Experts weigh the threat that Trump has sometimes threatened to use the powers of his office against the news agencies that go through it. During his campaign, and again in March, he considered relaxing the defamation law to facilitate prosecution for inaccurate stories.
In a October 5 tweet, he urged the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate media coverage of the media as part of its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.
In 1972, President Richard Nixon urged his lieutenants to interfere with the renewal of Washington Post licenses for television stations in Florida. The company’s stock price has fallen and licensing has cost more than a million dollars in legal fees to the company for more than two-and-a-half years, publisher Katharine Graham wrote in 1997.
“Of all the threats faced by the company during Watergate, attempts to undermine our credibility, difficulties, and competition, the most effective were the licensing challenges of our two television stations in Florida.”
Trump’s tweet recalled the episode.
“Is Mr. Nixon speaking? This is the last time we had this,” said Peter Tannenwald, a communications lawyer.
Tannenwald, who has practiced law for 50 years, did not recall having revoked a television license because of the station’s programming.
Democrats have criticized the president’s action as a clear attempt to intimidate journalists.
Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts urged the Federal Communications Commission in a letter “to withstand all of President Trump’s urgent requests to harm the media and violate the First Amendment.
“@POTUS is still openly suggesting an abuse of power,” Senator Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat, said in a tweet.
Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the FCC, simply tweeted, “It’s not how it works.”
It was not just the Democrats who denounced Trump’s threat.
Senator Ben Sasse, a Nebraska Republican and frequent critic of the president, asked if Trump retracted his oath of office
“Mr. President: The words spoken by the President of the United States are important,” Sasse said in a statement. “Are you reversing the January 20th oath to preserve, protect and defend the First Amendment?”
FCC Republican President Ajit Pai, who was chosen by Trump, did not respond to requests by email and phone to make a comment.
The National Association of Broadcasters stated that Trump’s threat to use the regulatory authority against the television channel violates the protection of press freedom under the Constitution.