Trump vs. the First Amendment

John Bozick, Web Editor

President Donald Trump took to Twitter this past week yet again to vent his pent up rage, this time throwing the focus of his Twitter temper-tantrum at NBC news following its negative coverage of him. While Trump tweets are nothing to take too seriously, this tweet was a little shocking due to the fact that Trump is challenging the First Amendment because he did not like what a news organization said about him.

The president went on to tweet to his millions of twitter followers last Monday saying, “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!”

Luckily, however, Trump has no constitutional power to restrict the free press, instead the Federal Communication Commission would have to find valid reasoning to restrict NBC’s broadcast license. While Trump-appointed FCC chairman, Ajit Pai has been criticized for his silence on the issue, Jessica Rosenworcel, a top official within the FCC, was very adamant about the protection of first amendment rights.

Speaking on the president’s claims, Rosenworcel said, “I think it’s important for all the commissioners to make clear that they support the First Amendment, and that the agency will not revoke a broadcast license simply because the president is dissatisfied with the licensee’s coverage.”

The entire issue at hand began when NBC news ran a series of negative articles pertaining to accusations Trump had previously made in the past about the use of nuclear weapons. After which NBC ran further articles focusing on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly calling the president a “moron.”

The secretary of state proceeded to call a very forced-looking press conference in which he shot down any claims that he called Trump that word, he later told CNN”s Jake Tapper “I’m not going to deal with that petty stuff.”

The triad against NBC was not Trump’s only threat towards First Amendment rights in the past week. The day before, he also continued to focus on the important issues facing our country by attacking the NFL yet again. The president suggested that if the NFL does not stop its players from protesting police violence during the national anthem, they should have their current tax status changed.

However, while the president can talk all he wants about revoking licenses and changing the tax status of the NFL, it should be worth noting that the president cannot actually call for the FCC to revoke the broadcast license of NBC, CNN and other news organizations as the FCC doesn’t actually license cable news programs or channels, they only hold the licensing rights to individual stations.

Trumps words are still troubling because it proves that as a man he has no sense of tolerance for any form of criticism, and based on his words he has no respect for the First Amendment. Perhaps the president should remember a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right.”