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Trump Attacks Free Press with NBC Threat, But it Isn’t the First Time

Donald Trump has consistently attacked what he calls the “fake news” media throughout his time on the campaign trail as a presidential candidate and now as President of the United States of America.


The president is constantly lashing out at the media on Twitter. Since assuming the Oval in January, he has attacked news organizations 89 times, mentioning specific outlets like CNN and The New York Times more often than not, according to a recent study by Axios.

Diagram: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

Diagram: Lazaro Gamio / Axios

But not every Trump tweet about the media is as an “attack”; he frequently praises Fox News for their “honest” reporting, which almost entirely constitutes positive coverage of him. He often retweets them and reminds his followers to tune in to their shows.


Yet, he is quick to rail against any news organization that reports negatively on him. Trump most recently lashed out at NBC, asking for a possible revocation of its license on Twitter.

In the story that prompted the below tweet, NBC News reported that the president wanted a “tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal” — the claim that supposedly prompted Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call him a “moron.”


Trump’s tweet suggests that he may be confused about how TV licenses work. The guidelines of the Federal Communications Commission state, “We license only individual broadcast stations. We do not license TV or radio networks (such as CBS, NBC, ABC or Fox).”

The FCC goes on to say that “broadcasters — not the FCC or any other government agency — are responsible for selecting the material that they air,” as per the First Amendment.

Ironically enough, NBC is the network that aired Trump’s TV show, The Celebrity Apprentice, which he hosted for 14 seasons up until his presidential bid. Trump and NBC once had a positive relationship; it’s interesting that because of a news story critical of him, he now wants their so-called “license” revoked.

Though ill-informed, Trump’s suggestion about revoking NBC’s license is unnerving, as he is essentially communicating that he wants the federal government to have power over what the media airs, thus expelling the check on the government that the media provides to the public.

Indeed, the First Amendment’s right to free speech, granted by the U.S. Constitution, is touted as an integral part of a free society and of American values. An attack on the First Amendment can thus be seen as an attack on The Constitution as a whole.