Once again the chattering classes (and weak-kneed Republicans) are atwitter that Donald Trump has threatened to do something unseemly. This time to NBC, putatively for peddling some fake news. Basically he paraphrased the old Mafiosi threat, “Nice broadcast license you have there. It would be ashamed if something happened to it.”
The reaction has been essentially that Donald Trump is taking away NBC’s First Amendment rights, blah, blah, blah.
That’s not actually true.
It’s important to understand that NBC owns and operates several (lucrative)stations in the top TV markets (???). Therefore it has to maintain broadcast licenses in its own name.
However, most people watch NBC affiliates, that is, stations owned by others. These other owners are free to drop their affiliation, according to contracts, of course.
The simple fact is that Pres. Trump cannot take away the broadcast licenses of those stations owned by NBC, much less the affiliates.
The removal of those broadcast licenses would require the FCC to take action. Prompting the FCC to take action would not so much be at the behest of the president but rather complaints lodged against those stations by viewers.
Of course removing broadcast licenses en masse would be very unusual. So unusual that it is essentially inconceivable.
Pres. Trump knows this, I think.
I believe what he is up to is that he’s sending a signal.
Look at it another way. The most important and valuable asset NBC’s owned and operated stations have are the public airwaves they use (but don’t own). And as such users they are supposed to serve the public — all the public not just the Democratic Party and coastal elites. This little detail has been long forgotten or taken for granted.
Looking at it from a fresh angle — it’s unlikely that the news operations of those NBC stations have any Trump voters working at them, at least, not in the editorial end. I work in the media industry, though not mainstream news media. I can tell you from experience that the MSM does not hire Republicans or open conservatives. The books written on this phenomenon are now legion.
Considering that at least 1/3 of the country is made up of Trump voters, how is it in the public interest when a user of a public asset leans strongly against at least 1/3 of the country? One-third of the owners of those assets and has done so for decades?
The same is true of the other networks, save Fox.
If NBC were what it has long pretended to be, an unbiased transmitter of information, it would have plenty of Trump voters working at it. The same would be true of the other big networks. But that’s simply not the case. You’d think if they were honest they’d be embarrassed at being so one-sided.
But if they were little (or nothing) more than partisans they’d be satisfied at their domination and seeking to maintain it.
Something needs to be done about the broadcast media being little more than an information transmission belt for the Democratic Party.
It is important to understand that this only affects the publicly-owned airwaves. For cable news operations and newspapers, they are privately-owned, utilizing private networks and should be sheltered from government interference. Ironically, liberals want to bring cable operations under the eye of the FCC. That should be strongly resisted.
One final note, notice that Trump hasn’t threatened to use the government against newspapers — they don’t make use of publicly-owned assets either. His threats against them have been civil (libel) laws.