Ben Sasse Responds to President Trump's Call for Reviewing NBC's Broadcast License

Caricature by DonkeyHotey

Yesterday, NBC ran what appears to be a blatantly false story about President Trump’s comments during a July 20 national security meeting. I say blatantly false because Secretary of Defense James Mattis said it was false and I don’t think Mattis needs or wants any job bad enough to burn down a reputation he has built over four decades (some here though will disagree and have done so). This is just one of several stories run by NBC and by CNN that were false, probably known to be false when they were run, and were run for the dual purpose of trolling Trump and of building a narrative that Trump is incapable of understanding even the most rudimentary details of government.


He started off yesterday with this

and was still exercised last night

Last night, Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse weighed in:

I understand people ridiculing what Trump said about essentially putting NBC out of business. I’m not even sure NBC, the network, has a “license.” Local stations have one, but the network? And there is no way the FCC is going to go after broadcast licenses over this. What I don’t understand is people who claim to be serious, like Sasse, pretending to believe that everything Trump says is worthy of response. It isn’t.

I think Jay Cost has this right:


And Erick Erickson, is mostly right though I think he ends up taking the long term threat to press freedom based on a tweet much, much, much too seriously as a tweet is not a precedent for anything but tweeting:

The President has suggested he would have the FCC take away NBC’s license because of fake news. This is, obviously, the President trolling us. He can’t do that and NBC has no license. Individual NBC affiliates have an FCC broadcast license and I really doubt the President wants them all to be out of business. That would be a massive spike in unemployment.

What the President is doing is trying to highlight NBC running a rather fraudulent story about him. This comes after multiple findings that an NBC national security reporter is apparently in the pocket of a Democrat and pro-Russia PR firm.

The problem, though, is that while President Trump’s supporters take him seriously and not literally, plenty of others take him literally and not seriously. For a President to suggest the FCC should target a media outlet is a dangerous precedent. Just as President Trump has been able to use prior Obama era precedents, including Obama’s own words as President, to undermine the Obama agenda, a future Democrat President can do the same.

Here, I think Trump is simply taken a page from the Obama play book:

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is unlikely to heed calls from activists to revoke the U.S. broadcasting licenses of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp., experts say.

Watchdog groups are pushing the FCC to cancel the licenses over the scandal that has enveloped News Corp. in the United Kingdom. Employees of the company allegedly hacked voice mail accounts and bribed public officials, and a British parliamentary committee ruled earlier this month that Murdoch is “not fit” to run an international media company.

In response to the scandal, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics and Washington (CREW) and other groups have asked the FCC to rescind News Corp.’s 27 Fox broadcasting licenses, arguing the company no longer meets the character requirements set under the law.

There is some precedent for pulling licenses, and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on Wednesday said he takes the News Corp. complaint “very seriously.”


CREW, of course, is the Democrat astroturf group that carries out guerrilla war against GOP officeholders and they took this action during one of the many spats Obama was having with Fox.

Factually, Trump has taken no action, at least as far as I can find, that indicates this is anything more than simply his daily venting–an un-presidential habit but certainly not a existential threat to the First Amendment.

And I suspect Ben Sasse, whom I really like, knows all of this and has known all of this for longer than many. So I’m not really sure what is gained for Sasse or for anyone by even acknowledging this nonsense much less counter-trolling it. This silliness dominated the news yesterday, probably again to day, and it will have a significant place on the Sunday shows.

No one benefits from this but Trump who gets to be the center of attention. Three tweets, think about that for a second, have completely controlled the news for 24 hours. No serious person believes pulling NBC’s “license” is even a possibility and it certainly would not survive any type of court challenge. And yet, people feel compelled to pretend that they think this crap is a serious for the sole purpose of differentiating themselves from Trump–which was something they could more easily do by just not mimicking his behavior.


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