TrumpWatch, Day 265: Trump Criticizes Freedom of the Press

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Donald Trump with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the White House, October 11, 2017 (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Trump: “Disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write”


Developments on Day 265 of the Trump Administration:

Trump Calls for Licensing of Media

Expanding his everyday attacks on journalism, Donald Trump calls for licensing of US media that report on his actions and policies.

Continuing to fume over Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s reported labelling of him as a “f***** moron” and further angered by a multi-sourced account that he called for a 1000% increase in the US nuclear arsenal just before Tillerson’s remark, Trump lashed out on Twitter on Wednesday morning:

Then, during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump again denied that he had asked for the sharp escalation in nuclear weapons, a request that concerned advisors about his lack of knowledge and insight.

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said. “And people should look into it.”

He said he was not calling for limits to be imposed on the media, but maintained that “the press should speak more honestly”: “I mean, I’ve seen tremendously dishonest press. It’s not even a question of distortion….And then they have their sources that don’t exist.”

However, he closed the day with another call for those limits:

Throughout his 2016 campaign, Trump invoked “fake news” and “fake media” both to deflect reports — from questions over his conflicts of interest to reports about his sexual harassment of women to issues about Russian interference — and to claim bias in favor of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. From the start of his Presidency, he has maintained the theme, trying to replace the visual evidence of a smaller-than-desired crowd at his inauguration.

But recently Trump has moved beyond verbal denunciation to calls for restrictions. Last week, unsettled by the expanding Trump-Russia investigation, he suggested that the Senate Intelligence Committee investigate news outlets. Over the weekend, annoyed by late-night TV hosts jabbing at him in their stand-up routines, he proposed bringing back the Fairness Doctrine, a rule phased out by the Reagan Administration in 1987, which required broadcasters to provide equal time for divergent political views.

Legal experts said Trump’s threat against NBC is futile, since the Federal Communications Network does not grant licenses to networks and stations’ licenses are rarely stripped over political concerns or for other reasons.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a member of the FCC, wrote on Twitter, “Not how it works”:

In 1973, allies of President RichardNixon challenged individual licenses of TV stations owned by The Washington Post during the investigation of Watergate. The challenges failed.

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