President Trump threatens networks, saying it's 'disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want'


Coverage Type: reporting
Location:
The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC, 20500, United States

President Donald Trump has threatened press freedoms before, but on Oct 11 he went a step further: suggesting that television networks lose their federal broadcast licenses for what he considers “fake news.” In comments to reporters in the Oval Office, President Trump said, “It is frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should look into it.”

The remarks alarmed 1st Amendment advocates for suggesting the use of government power to punish the media, recalling for many the threats of President Richard Nixon. “The founders of our nation set as a cornerstone of our democracy the 1st Amendment, forever enshrining and protecting freedom of the press," said Gordon Smith, president of the National Association of Broadcasters and a former Republican senator from Oregon. “It is contrary to this fundamental right for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license simply because of a disagreement with the reporting of a journalist,” he said. Asked whether there should be limits on what journalists can write, President Trump softened his tone. “No. The press should speak more honestly,” he said. “I’ve seen tremendously dishonest press. It’s not even a question of distortion.”

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