What's this all about?
On Wednesday, President Trump once again went on a Twitter rampage against the media, this time specifically name-checking NBC:
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
What fake news?
According to Trump,
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!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 11, 2017
This is that story: "Trump Wanted Tenfold Increase in Nuclear Arsenal, Surprising Military," as reported by Courtney Kube, Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee and Savannah Guthrie.
Well, Trump bashes the media all the time.
True—news organizations including CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post have been repeated Trump Twitter targets, and now obviously it's NBC News' turn (thus the "NBC = CNN!" bit in Trump's tweet above). But he really seems to be fixating about this. He also tweeted last night:
Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017
So could he do that?
Uh, well, as David McCabe of Axios explains, "NBC the network doesn't have a 'license.' Individual stations do. Some of those are owned directly by NBC's parent company, Comcast, but even if the FCC revoked those licenses it wouldn't stop the network from producing content."
But President Trump has been trying to do—and has just been doing—all kinds of things he legally can't do (leaving the courts to attempt to untangle the mess in slow motion). And, of course, in an autocracy, it's not for us to question the supreme leader.
So the First Amendment, protecting the freedom of the press—Trump hasn't heard about that?
He's probably heard of it? But he may have also heard that it was Obama's idea—so naturally it's got to go.
Media people have to be a bit freaked out about this. Anyone else?
Yeah, Republican Senator Ben Sasse, for starters.
Mr. President:— Ben Sasse (@BenSasse) October 12, 2017
Are you recanting of the Oath you took on Jan. 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the 1st Amendment? pic.twitter.com/XLB7QXM3bQ
But we respectfully remind Mr. Sasse that, again, in an autocracy, it is not for us—any of us, including senators—to question the supreme leader.
Who's happy about Trump's attack on NBC?
Presumably the pro-autocracy portion of Trump's base. Also, keep in mind that killing NBC would not only eliminate the NBC News division, but it would elminate the Trump-bashing "Saturday Night Live" and a recently rebooted show called "Will & Grace" that promotes the homosexual lifestyle.
OK, let's say Trump somehow managed to revoke NBC's imaginary license and take the network and NBC News off the air. What would happen then?
The gap in the marketplace created by NBC's elimination would be a great opportunity for the expansion of state-sponsored media.
You mean, like, Voice of America?
No. like Fox News, which perhaps could be granted some sort of special, super-sized (huge) new license by executive order. By the way, Trump was also busy tweeting about Fox News last night:
Later, he even retweeted another of his Fox News promos from earlier in the evening:
So Fox News would take over for NBC? How would they fill all that additional airtime?
Piece of cake. For starters, a new nightly show called "You Have No Idea How Humble I Am."
This is it. Nothing in 2017 will ever beat this. pic.twitter.com/xLy8Osae8o— Heraa Hashmi (@caveheraa) October 10, 2017
That could two hours each night, easy. And so on.
Also, live coverage, in the manner of the old Court TV network, of the state trial of Courtney Kube, Kristen Welker, Carol E. Lee and Savannah Guthrie.