Even If Trump’s Threat Against NBC Isn’t Serious, It’s Still Destructive

The Federalist | 10/11/2017 | David Harsanyi
kims (Posted by) Level 3
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After NBC ran an article maintaining that the president had asked for the nuclear arsenal to be increased tenfold, Donald Trump, as is his wont, tweeted:

The answer, of course, is that it’s never appropriate for a person sworn to defend the Constitution to threaten to shut down political speech. Not even if that speech irritates him, or undermines his political priorities, or happens to be genuinely fake news. Trump might have framed his contention in the form of a question, but he’s clearly comfortable with regulatory restrictions on speech. This puts in him league with those who support “fairness doctrines,” those who want to overturn the Citizens United decision, and so on.

Comments - Trump - License - Idea - Follower

When I tweeted critical comments about Trump’s “license” idea, a follower accused of me practicing “literal-ism.” This is not new. As you know, we’re not supposed to take everything Trump says seriously. Sure, it’s more than likely the president’s threat is nothing more than bluster. There is less of a chance that he’ll challenge the “licenses” of networks — whatever that means; networks don’t function on licensing tied to the veracity of their reporting, obviously — than there is of the GOP passing any meaningful bill. It’s just more fuel for the corrupt symbiotic relationship between the president and the establishment media. Each side can now preen for a cycle.

But none of this changes the fact that presidents do have the power to undermine your privacy and destroy your life over free expression. It doesn’t change the fact that when presidents play around with authoritarian ideas for political gain, a faction of Americans — always a different faction, depending on who is doing the speaking — are either comfortable hearing it or offer rationalizations for it. All the while we continue to abandon neutral principles for political gain. This...
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