The Jury Talks Back


TRUMP THUGGERY: Trump Takes a Page from the Left, Threatens NBC License

Filed under: Uncategorized — Patterico @ 8:00 am

As Susan Wright noted earlier, NBC reported this morning that Donald Trump “wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal” — a ludicrous request that appears to be what prompted Rex Tillerson to call Trump a “moron.” In typical authoritarian style, Trump is responding by denying the story . . . and also by threatening NBC’s broadcast license:

I believe the NBC story because Trump is a) a liar and b) a f*cking moron. But that’s not the point.

The point is that we should all come together — all of us, every single one of us — to oppose this sort of anti-speech thuggery.

The left has a long and rich history of using the power of government regulation to threaten speech they don’t like, with threats to broadcast licenses being a particular favorite of the thugs. I documented just a few of the examples in a post from 2010:

Whether it’s Democrats’ threatening to pull Fox News’s broadcast license because they don’t like the content; or Harry Reid & Co. writing a mafia-style letter threatening ABC’s broadcast license over “The Path to 9/11″; or the DNC threatening Sinclair Broadcasting’s broadcast license over an anti-Kerry documentary; or Obama’s thugs threatening networks’ broadcast licenses over criticism from the NRA; or, most recently, Kathleen Sebelius suggesting that insurance companies had better not claim they’re raising rates because of ObamaCare, or they may find themselves regulated out of existence . . . based on these examples and many more, the public has a special need to fear Democrats’ bringing down the hammer when they engage in free speech.

Now this is officially going to become a position of the “right” as well. As least the idiot portion of the right — a group too large for comfort. And don’t kid yourself. With all the “fake news” caterwauling we constantly hear, Trump’s latest suggestion is sure to appeal to the dimwits who make up a part of Trump’s base. These would be the same authoritarian and reactionary types who shrug at Trump’s praise for Putin and Duterte, and applaud his calls to “open up the libel laws.” The Trumpers will laugh and clap wildly . . . while the anti-anti-Trumpers — the would-be “intellectuals” of the populist movement — will also laugh and clap wildly . . . but will then also say “come on, Trump is not being serious, but he has a point, doesn’t he? Plus we need to use the tactics of the left against them!”

Neither Trumper nor anti-anti-Trumper will spend a single solitary moment denouncing the thuggery on full display here. And Americans will look from Trumper to anti-anti-Trumper, and from anti-anti-Trumper to Trumper — but already it will be impossible to say which is which.

I’ve been documenting and railing about these sort of abuses for the greater part of my adult life. Until now, I have never seen it happen on the right. If it did, I missed it. I used to think of this sort of threat as an exclusively leftist tactic. And it is. But now it will be cheered by the right, because Trump.

There are few things I hate more than seeing the power of the government used to threaten or squelch speech. That behavior has been characteristic of every murderous authoritarian regime in modern history, and any politician taking even a step down that road should greatly concern every American citizen.

If you are defending this because it’s Trump, I have nothing in common with you. You are part of the problem.

To the rest of you: join me in denouncing this. I don’t care if the left denounces it too (as they inevitably will). The Trumpers and the anti-anti-Trumpers don’t understand this, but what’s right is right . . . even if the left happens to agree!

If you don’t understand that, then you’re letting the left dictate your belief system. You’re a sheep, and you deserve to be led to the metaphorical slaughter.

[Cross-posted at RedState.]


  1. So, Trump is threatening something that does not exist (network broadcast licenses – there are none, it’s the individual broadcast stations that are licensed.)

    I loathe threats to free speech. I also loathe the networks he’s threatening. But, yes, I come down on the side of free speech. When I saw his mention of the licenses, I was appalled.

    Comment by Arizona CJ — 10/11/2017 @ 3:55 pm

  2. Trump asked: “With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?” Hmm. Logically, that depends upon the conditions of the broadcast licenses in question. CBS was fined $550,000 for the Janet Jackson Nipplegate matter, but I haven’t noticed any nipples lately. Maybe showing nipples isn’t the only license condition, though. Should we go into hysterics whenever POTUS vaguely raises a question about non-nipple censorship? I prefer to reserve my hysterics for something more tangible.

    Comment by Andrew — 10/11/2017 @ 6:38 pm

  3. Point 1: There could be legitimate reasons to challenge a broadcaster’s license. E.g., if they routinely spilled classified information in their news broadcasts, I’d have no issue with their license being withdrawn.

    Point 2: “They’re lying” is not, NOT, NOT a legitimate reason. This falls so squarely in First Amendment grounds that there’s no possible justification.

    So, President Trump, I have an answer to your question. The answer is “Never, and you should be impeached if you even try.”

    (Is there an impeachment process for Congressmen and Senators? Because Reid & co. should also have been impeached for their threats to ABC.)

    Comment by Robin Munn — 10/11/2017 @ 10:06 pm

  4. Arizona CJ, I agree.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/12/2017 @ 7:10 am

  5. Robin, broadcasters are given a scarce public resource (part of the broadcast spectrum which is publicly owned) and given exclusive use of it, in return for a commitment to use it in the public interest. If they instead use it for private purposes only, or to benefit only one faction, then they are no longer complying with their license, and would be obliged to spread their message by other means so that someone else can use that portion of the broadcast spectrum.

    According to the Brookjngs Institution, “The FCC’s mandate to regulate broadcasting consistent with the ‘public interest, convenience, and necessity’ remains a pillar of communications law and regulation.”

    That said, the FCC has been wise to mostly keep hands off.

    Comment by Andrew — 10/12/2017 @ 9:56 am

  6. One of the problems is that if the government can revoke a broadcast license for something like benefitting only one faction, the power to do that is sufficiently susceptible to abuse, and the evidence used so arguable, that there would be no way to prevent the government from forcing broadcast licenses to be used to benefit the government’s favored factions. That’s what happens in places like Turkey.

    Comment by aphrael — 10/12/2017 @ 1:05 pm

  7. I have always despised the media. Trump is so bad he’s starting to make me dismissive of attacks on them, even though I know they’re still awful.

    He’s the worst thing to happen in politics in my lifetime and the country would have been far better off had he never been born.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/12/2017 @ 7:38 pm

  8. Even if he gets every last policy that you support implemented?

    Comment by Andrew — 10/12/2017 @ 10:53 pm

  9. Andrew,

    First, that won’t happen because Trump is only able to govern with a pen, so whatever he does will only last through his term. Second, it won’t happen because Trump doesn’t believe in conservative values so his policies won’t be conservative, expect by accident or if he feels pressure to embrace them by his base. His base doesn’t seem to care.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/13/2017 @ 8:43 am

  10. “Conservatives shouldn’t support Trump because Trump is only able to govern with a pen” seems like a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Comment by Andrew — 10/13/2017 @ 10:06 am

  11. Where did you get that, Andrew? Certainly not from me.

    Like Patterico, I support Trump when he does conservative things, and I don’t support him when he does things that undermine conservatism. But I don’t think it’s realistic to speculate Trump getting “every last policy” that conservatives support because he isn’t a conservative and apparently sees no value in conservatism, only in conservative (and moderate and liberal) votes.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/13/2017 @ 3:32 pm

  12. Do you understand how you misstated what I said and my position?

    Comment by DRJ — 10/13/2017 @ 3:34 pm

  13. Or were you speaking to someone else in your comment 10?

    Comment by DRJ — 10/13/2017 @ 3:35 pm

  14. “Conservatives shouldn’t support Trump because Trump is only able to govern with a pen” seems like a self-fulfilling prophesy.

    Andrew, if you’re going to comment here, make a special effort not to misstate other people’s positions — and if they tell you that you have, acknowledge your error, please.

    I’m not saying you misstated anything deliberately, mind you. But apparently you have regardless.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/13/2017 @ 5:52 pm

  15. I don’t think that saying stuff like “He’s the worst thing to happen in politics in my lifetime and the country would have been far better off had he never been born” is consistent with “support[ing] Trump when he does conservative things”. I think it’s consistent with hating his guts and grudgingly acknowledging when he does something right, and wishing he didn’t exist.

    I would like to see a list of the top items that cause you all to hate Trump so much. He’s certainly an unorthodox president, and certainly says some ill-advised things sometimes, but constantly aiming hate at him only gives cover to conservative politicians who undermine him legislatively. That’s why I think it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy to say that you hate him and that he’s ineffective. Hating him causes him to be ineffective.

    Now, maybe he deserves hatred and deserves to be a failure as POTUS, but a lot of the hatred has been ginned up by the media. For example, how many news articles reported that Judge Curiel belonged to an organization (the HNBA) that launched a boycott against Trump BEFORE Trump criticized Curiel? Maybe two. Or how many mentioned what a June 2016 study found: that the U.S. and Russia (along with the former Soviet Union) “intervened in 117 elections around the world from 1946 to 2000 — an average of once in every nine competitive elections”, and yet Trump has been under a cloud now for nine months of his presidency absent any evidence of complicity.

    Anyway, I apologize for using the quote marks in my comment #10 even though they were used without attribution.

    Comment by Andrew — 10/13/2017 @ 6:44 pm

  16. I think that’s all consistent.

    He’s the worst thing to happen in politics in my lifetime.

    The country would have been far better off had he never been born.

    I will support Trump’s actions when he does conservative things.

    I hate his guts. I’m not proud of this.

    I will acknowledge when he does something right. You can call it grudging if you like. Nobody made me do it. My support of what he did is not grudging. My support of him as a person cannot be grudging or non-grudging because said support does not exist. I support only his actions. Not him as a person.

    I am not wishing for him to die but again I think we would have been far better off had he not been born.

    I think all these things.

    It seems to hurt your feelings that I don’t like him. You are going to have to get over it. Because I never will.

    “I would like to see a list of the top items that cause you all to hate Trump so much.” See: my blog for the last two years. I am not going on a fool’s errand of trying to convince you he is a bad man. That is plain to some and will never be plain to others. You fall in the latter category. So be it.

    “constantly aiming hate at him only gives cover to conservative politicians who undermine him legislatively” I have aimed a lot of vitriol at those who tried to undermine the effort to repeal ObamaCare. Sorry you weren’t around for those posts, apparently. They are, however, easy to find.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/13/2017 @ 7:28 pm

  17. Andrew,

    Calling my comments substance free, or saying the blog does not elevate your existence, is a perfect example of the type of comment that gets deleted from this side of the blog. If it is important to you to publicly declare that criticism of Trump is unbearable for you, the place for such comments is on the main site, with all the other people saying the same thing.

    So if you are wondering why two of your comments just disappeared, wonder no longer.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/13/2017 @ 8:50 pm

  18. Quote: “… a position of the “right” as well. As least the idiot portion of the right — a group too large for comfort.”


    As seen many times in recent history. The same exact sort of people living in Argentina were the ones cheering Juan Peron. Consequences that come late, come hard.

    Comment by Luke Stywalker — 10/14/2017 @ 4:36 am

  19. By the way, Andrew decided that the Trump criticism was too much for him and left. I deleted his comments because this is not the venue for such whining, but I figured you should know he flounced.

    Comment by Patterico — 10/14/2017 @ 7:06 am

  20. Thanks. It’s a shame he is so sensitive about Trump.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/14/2017 @ 8:26 am

  21. People don’t believe me when I tell them I knew the word “dotard” before Kim Jong Un did. I can’t prove it, but I can prove that I knew its adjective, “doty”, since 1982, having found the book in which Roger Zelazny uses it.

    Comment by nk — 10/14/2017 @ 5:25 pm

  22. You understand the need to enunciate when saying “doty old man”, though.

    Comment by nk — 10/14/2017 @ 5:41 pm

  23. Not that it would help when talking to New Yorker.

    Comment by nk — 10/14/2017 @ 5:43 pm

  24. Or matter in reference to Trump.

    Comment by nk — 10/14/2017 @ 6:02 pm

  25. You are upset about the Cubs, nk. My sympathies. My Longhorns lost a big one, too.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/14/2017 @ 9:20 pm

  26. But I’m not really upset because we finally have a great coach and a promising future. I bet the Cubs can come back, too.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/14/2017 @ 9:22 pm

  27. I’m only pretending to be upset, DRJ. It’s only the first game. Last year, they won the World Series in the 10th inning of the 7th game.

    Comment by nk — 10/15/2017 @ 2:33 am

  28. That’s the spirit! I hope it’s the Astros and the Cubs in the World Series.

    Comment by DRJ — 10/15/2017 @ 7:18 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Comment moderation is enabled. Your comment may take some time to appear.

Live Preview

Powered by WordPress.