There’s nothing I appreciate about Trump’s presidency more than his war against the media. Every day is a new smack in the continuous slap fight between the Oval Office and the mainstream media. Like Dr. Ishiro Serizawa from Godzilla I stand on the sidelines, utterly fascinated, muttering “let them fight” as the titanic slugfest plays out before me.
After the mutual boot licking we witnessed for eight years during the Obama administration, it warms my heart to see the media’s hubris challenged, mocked, and dismantled by the Oval Office itself. Yes, it sometimes gets overly ridiculous, and maybe even sometimes more than a little embarrassing, but Trump’s bloviating has thrown the media on its rear more times than not.
As a result, I’ve never seen a harder push against the mainstream media occur since the days of Andrew Breitbart, God rest his badass soul.
I don’t just throw this praise out lightly. Anyone who knows me, or has followed my work, knows I’m no fan of Trump, but I promised to praise him when he deserved it, and lambast him when he really deserved it.
Today, he really deserves it.
Earlier today, prompted by an NBC report about Trump’s desire for a beefier nuclear arsenal, Trump wondered aloud via Twitter if NBC should have its license stripped because of all the fake news they throw at us. While it obviously earned the ire of anyone who was already going to trash him even if he said something along the lines of “I love puppies,” it also ran afoul of the right.
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
Trump’s tweet suggests that because NBC reports news he doesn’t like, then they should be silenced. I don’t think I have to tell you that this implies — from the leader of the free world, mind you — a restriction on practice of First Amendment rights from those that report news disagreeable to the highest office in the land.
Let me be clear. He wants to de-platform a business for speaking out against him. This is not only leans too dangerously in anti-Constitutional direction, it’s straight up hypocritical.
Trump’s tweet comes in the midst of a battle being fought by many in his base, against radical leftists who openly resort to violence in order to silence their opposition. Far too often I social justice warriors and identity activists alike say “f**k free speech, and equate the expression of differing opinion as actual violence. Like everyone with at least half a functioning brain cell, I refute, deride, mock — mostly in that order — their claims.
But so does Trump. When Berkeley anti-free speech activists threw a destructive and violent temper tantrum on UC Berkeley campus over Milo Yiannopolous speaking to students, Trump took to Twitter and threatened to defund the University.
If U.C. Berkeley does not allow free speech and practices violence on innocent people with a different point of view – NO FEDERAL FUNDS?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 2, 2017
It seemed Trump was a free speech warrior, but with this licensing talk of NBC, he looks like a “free speech is speech that I like” warrior, much like the crowd his base is continuously fighting against.
Rest assured, Trump cannot do a thing about NBC’s license. While it is a broadcast company, broadcast licenses sits with local stations. The vast majority of these stations are not at all owned by NBC, even if they distribute their content. Furthermore, Trump does not have the power to pull a license, a challenge first has to be made to the FCC by local residents. Even then, there’s very little guarantee that the challenge will result in the network’s license being pulled.
But that tidbit of information aside, it’s not a disappearing license I’m worried about. It’s the fact that the leader of the free world just suggested something Hugo Chavez — socialism’s Venezuelan messiah — did when a station he didn’t like continued to air speech he found disagreeable.
In 2007, Chavez tried to pull the plug on Radio Caracas Television due to it’s anti-Chavez stances. When it came time to renew the channel’s license, to no one’s surprise, they were unable. They were accused of inciting the failed 2002 coup d’état that sought to oust Chavez from power. No proof was given that RCTV had a hand in the coup, nor was any trial given. The company’s assets were seized by the government, and that was that.
While Trump doesn’t have the influence, or power that Chavez does, his tweet makes it seem like he wishes he did, and that should worry everyone, especially his free speech loving base.
I get it. NBC, and indeed the rest of the mainstream media, isn’t giving the right a fair shake. For every liberty minded individual that sits in front of a camera, we see 100 statists more.
But that’s their decision to make. They’re a private business. I’d much rather see 1,000 leftists lie to me on television than one government official succeed in making them broadcast something they don’t want, or restrict their guest selections in order to balance out ideologies. Neither I, nor the right, took that kind of suggestion well when it came in the form of the Fairness Doctrine then, and we shouldn’t take it kindly in the form of a tweet now.
We need to put free speech first. It’s where it is in the Constitution, and it’s where it needs to stay in our minds.