Trump’s suggestion that NBC should potentially challenge its broadcast license has caused a wave of condemnation from both sides of the aisle, with many saying this move could violate the First Amendment. Trump lashed out at NBC News on Wednesday after the outlet reported that during the meeting with top Cabinet officials Trump had suggested increasing the nation’s nuclear arms stockpile
“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!” Trump tweeted.
Although the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is in charge of licensing television stations, it can only grant licenses to local stations, but not their national network affiliates. And despite the fact that NBC’s local stations rely on FCC licenses, it would be extremely unusual for the agency to revoke a license based on a broadcaster’s content, according to The Hill.
“Not how it works,” Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel responded to the president in her tweet.
“The president’s threat against NBC and other media outlets is far from empty,” referencing the similar proposal from President Nixon, who wanted to crack down on The Washington Post, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), said in a statement.
“This threat alone could intimidate the press and lead to skewed and unfair reporting,” said Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the top Commerce committee Democrat. “I therefore call on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to immediately condemn this unwarranted attack. I also call on the chair to announce publicly that he will not follow through on his orders from the president. Chairman Pai should not act in any way to undermine free speech on our airwaves,” he continued.
Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Pai requesting for him to publicly refuse to act according to Trump’s request.
Not only democrats were criticizing Trump. Conservatives and industry advocates who often side with Pai also expressed their concerns about the president’s message.
Pai has yet to address the president’s statement and a spokeswoman did not respond immediately when she was asked for comment. This is not the first time that Pai is being forced to answer for Trump’s invectives against the media.
Democrats pressed Pai in an oversight hearing and in a follow-up letter on whether he agreed with the assessment after Trump tweeted that the press is “enemy of the American People” in February.
“No,” Pai responded.