MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” panel could not stop laughing at President Donald Trump’s latest toothless threat to challenge NBC’s broadcasting license, which is not a thing.
“Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!” Trump tweeted. “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!”
As we explained yesterday, NBC does not have a license, they own many affiliate stations that each has a local broadcasting license. It’s virtually impossible to get a license revoked unless a station is guilty of actual crimes or systematically violating FCC rules.
On Thursday, “Morning Joe” co-host Mike Brzezinki explained to Trump, “To be clear, the networks themselves do not hold federal licenses, their individual television stations do. Right? Only a moron would think that anyhow.”
They then played a clip of Trump claiming the sources news outlets cite “don’t exist.”
“They’re in the room with him, they’re right there next you,” Brzezinski told Trump. “The NBC report does source three unidentified officials who were in the room at the Pentagon when the president reportedly made his comments.”
Host Joe Scarborough added, “He’s saying ‘they don’t exist, they don’t exist.’ He’s kind of like Fredo. Everyone around him is involved and the president doesn’t understand these stories come from all the people around him.”
Despite the fact that Trump’s threats are largely toothless, two Democrats lawmakers have called for public hearings over Trump’s threat to revoke licenses from media outlets he doesn’t like.
New Jersey Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. and Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Doyle called on all five members of the Federal Communications Commission to testify before Congress to disavow Trump’s comments.
“Over the past few days the President has repeatedly attacked news outlets and their FCC licenses,” they said in a statement. “This threat alone may already be chilling free-speech across the country. That is why we and others have called on the FCC Chairman to immediately condemn this intimidation and promise to the American public that he will not follow through on the directions he has received from the President.”
While FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has not directly commented on Trump’s tweets, he gave a speech last month that rebuked everything Trump has threatened to do.
According to Variety, Pai warned that “free speech in practice seems to be under siege in this country”:
He said the “common thread is the belief, shared by too many, that those with views perceived as unpopular or offensive should be silenced. One has to wonder whether those who will one day carry the torch will be dedicated to open debate or will instead seek to marginalize viewpoints they don’t like.”
He went on to cite “worrying signs” in Twitter posts in which “people regularly demand that the FCC yank licenses from cable news channels like Fox News, MSNBC, or CNN because they disagree with the opinions expressed on those networks.”
“Setting aside the fact that the FCC doesn’t license cable channels, these demands are fundamentally at odds with our legal and cultural traditions,” Pai said.