WASHINGTON – Several prominent press freedom groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Free Press, Media Law Resource Center, PEN America and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press issued the following statement today following President Trump’s suggestion via Twitter that NBC’s broadcast licenses be challenged.
"When coming from the leader of the free world, words matter. And if the First Amendment means anything, it’s that the government can’t censor news because it’s critical of the government. The president should be working to uphold the values of the First Amendment, not tearing them down."
The president’s tweet this morning read in full: “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 ... 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!”
The Federal Communications Commission is responsible for reviewing and granting broadcast licenses. While the FCC is charged with making sure that broadcasters serve the public interest, this independent agency does not and cannot make such judgments either on the basis of political viewpoint or at the president's whim. This tweet is the latest assault against U.S. press freedoms by the current administration.