Trump: Network News 'Licenses' Must Be Challenged

President Donald Trump has tripled down on his attack on the news media.

After his attacks--in tweets and a press conference--on NBC over a story that the President had talked about massively increasing the country's nuclear arsenal got major attention and bipartisan pushback, the President Wednesday evening tweeted a direct challenge to network news:

Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017

In his earlier tweet, the President had asked, albeit rhetorically, when it was appropriate to start challenging news outlets' licenses. The most recent tweet appeared to answer that question.

As various folks were pointing out after his initial tweet tirade, networks are not licensed by the FCC, though owned TV stations are.

Related: Trump NBC Threat Draws Bipartisan Chorus of Boos

The Radio-Television Digital News Association's Voice of the First Amendment Task Force has condemned the threats and the tweet they rode in on. Executive director Dan Shelley said the threat was "not only dangerous to the American people’s right to access responsible journalism, it represents a clear misunderstanding on his part
of how much control the federal government can exercise as it relates to networks and cable channels."

FCC chair Ajit Pai had no comment at press time, but he has pledged to Congress that he would not act in a manner that stifles or penalizes free speech "even if requested by the administration.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.