Fascism in America: Trump threatens to silence news networks
President Trump makes his most irresponsible proposal to date
An infamous German dictator once said of the media: “It is the press, above all, which wages a positively fanatical and slanderous struggle.” Some eighty years later, an infamous American president can’t seem to go a day without ripping a page from that playbook and tweeting about “Fake News“. The disdain that Donald Trump has exhibited for the free and protected press is no longer shocking. Yet Wednesday morning began with a new proposal that not only strikes at the heart of the First Amendment, but carries a wretched whiff of fascism.
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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
Broadcasting licenses in the United States are granted by the Federal Communications Commission — a federal agency. As the president suggests, these licenses can be pulled if networks abuse them by intentionally falsifying news. The commission’s website states:
As public trustees, broadcasters may not intentionally distort the news. The FCC has stated publicly that “rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest.” The FCC may act to protect the public interest when it has received documented evidence, such as testimony from persons who have direct personal knowledge of an intentional falsification of the news. Without such documented evidence, the FCC generally cannot intervene.
What the president does NOT seem to understand, is that simply disagreeing with the news does not make reporting “fake” or illegal. For instance, how, exactly, would Trump prove that February reports of White House dysfunction were inaccurate, as he alleged on twitter:
Don't believe the main stream (fake news) media.The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 18, 2017
The president would have to prove that he “inherited a mess” (again, this is an opinion that just about any incoming president from the opposite party of his predecessor would make). And in terms of “running very well”, is that how you would describe an administration that has had to part ways with a National Security Adviser, FBI Director, Health and Human Services Secretary, two Communication Directors and a Press Secretary within the first nine months of existence?
In Trump’s Nightmare Scenario, How Would Fox News Respond?
Trump often likes to tout and promote Fox News on Twitter, for reasons so obvious that they need no explanation. Yet if “pulling licenses” is on the table, how would News Corps defend their sordid history of misinformation that, on the surface, appears to be quite intentional. Consider the following:
- They were deemed “instrumental” in helping Trump promote the debunked, overtly-racist theory that President Obama was not born in America.
- They were forced to apologize for continuing to push false conspiracy theories about the murder of former DNC Staffer Seth Rich.
- Fox News was the only mainstream media outlet to give credence to the so-called “Pizzagate” myth.
All of which pales in comparison to Trump’s baseless claims that other media outlets are intentionally falsifying their reporting.
Donald Trump has made dangerous claims before, and he has never proven himself to be anything that would resemble a First Amendment Scholar. But threatening to revoke the broadcast license of media outlets with whom you disagree with goes against every single fiber of parchment that the Constitution was written on. It’s long past time where we, as Americans, must hold the Republican Party responsible for this gravest of threats to the freedoms we have enjoyed, protected and expanded for the last 230 years.
Because this is what fascism looks like.
Photo Credit: Getty Images News
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Ed Hanratty is a Reverb Press contributor and freelance political journalist. A lifelong New Jerseyan, he prides himself on having just enough Garden State sarcasm and skepticism to keep his bleeding heart in check. Keep up with Ed’s work and random ramblings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the links below…but not Snapchat — that’s where he’s decided to draw the social media line. (For Now)