Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Crossing the Twitter Rubicon

Liberty, Trump, censorship, NBC, New York Times, First Amendment

No sooner had I upbraided media folks for overreacting to various presidential peccadillos regarding Puerto Rico, when Donald J. Trump, in his running media battle, crossed a line with this week’s most notorious tweet.

He first complained, perhaps correctly, that, “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean.” But then the chief executive officer of the United States of America tweeted this: “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?”

The answer to his question is: never.

The Federal Communications Commission licenses the network affiliates of ABC, NBC and CBS across the country — not the networks themselves — to broadcast their television signals using public airwaves. Still, through those affiliates a tyrannical FCC could no doubt damage the networks.

Government licensing of media outlets is anathema to the First Amendment. And the thought of the POTUS actively threatening the ability of NBC or other networks to report the news as they freely decide is . . . well, unthinkable.

I don’t buy the accusations that Trump is undermining freedom of the press by criticizing the press — even arguing by tweet, “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) . . . is the enemy of the American People!” The president is as free to criticize the media as the media is free to criticize the president.

It might be his duty.

But considering the use of official government power to potentially “shut down NBC and other American networks,” as UK’s Independent reported, or just to temper their coverage?


This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob. 

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  1. The Donald is an unreconstructed malignant narcissist. I’m sorry to say that I think he is a terrible President. However, I still believe he is better than the alternative in the 2016 general election.

  2. Sheldon says:

    Freedom of the “press?”   An organization whose goal and basic purpose for existence  is to spew lies which can be harmful to our nation by giving our enemies false information about our intentions can no longer be called a press, but a subversive propaganda organization.  I agree that such an organization should be allowed to continue to operate because it still has a first amendment right to freedom of speech, but to assert that they have the right of a “freedom of press” gives them a legitimacy which they no longer should possess and certainly don’t deserve.   When fake news degenerates into lies harmful to our country we have cause to become alarmed.  Telling the world that Trump “wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal” is more than alarming.  Would Trump’s denial be believed by Russia or China?

    Knowingly, falsely accusing and harming our government, or our president and inciting fear among our friends and enemies should certainly subject the organization to libel laws and punishment commensurate with the damage caused by their lies.  The sanctions applied to a home-grown propaganda outlet  for severely damaging our country perhaps should even seriously impair the former news organization’s ability to operate, so intensely impair it as, perhaps, to put them out of business.  The penalty, of course, should not be determined by any division of the government, but by a truly independent jury of non-governmental citizens who will see to it that “the punishment fit the crime.” 

    That would not be despotism, but the way a free republic operates.

  3. Paul Bartomioli says:

    And what of untold numbers of citizens that said the same thing, that were not the President?

  4. Pat says:

    How about the ‘despotism’ of these networks?   Unlike print media, they occupy a limited spectrum of the airwaves, which we have been told belong to ‘the people’.    I guess that’s not true, anymore.  The president may have been speaking hypothetically but why not just shake your head in response?  President Obama deliberately targeted Fox News.   The same people that cheered him on are now shocked(!) that someone else would follow his lead.  Seems to me that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

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