Threatening FCC Broadcast Licenses of Media Outlets is a Bad Strategy for the GOP

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Threatening FCC Broadcast Licenses of Media Outlets is a Bad Strategy for the GOP
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Threatening FCC Broadcast Licenses of Media Outlets is a Bad Strategy for the GOP
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On the Morning of September 4th, 2018, President Trump took to Twitter to attack NBC over their handling of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. However, the president went further than just criticizing the network for the controversy surrounding their reporting of the story. He appeared to threaten NBC’s FCC license. The unedited text of the tweet sent that morning reads:

“NBC FAKE NEWS, which is under intense scrutiny over their killing the Harvey Weinstein story, is now fumbling around making excuses for their probably highly unethical conduct. I have long criticized NBC and their journalistic standards-worse than even CNN. Look at their license?”

This isn’t the first time the president has threatened NBC’s FCC license. Last October, Trump tweeted similar threats toward NBC over a report involving Rex Tillerson. These attacks against the media’s ability to broadcast their content is problematic for the GOP for multiple reasons.

Simply put, the optics of threatening the FCC licenses of media outlets are awful. The president and the GOP are known for their antagonistic attitude toward the media. That attitude might not necessarily be much of a weakness for the GOP among independent voters. Many critics from all sides of the aisle have criticized the increasingly sensationalist attitude of the media. Pulling licenses, on the other hand, goes far beyond a war of words.

While Republicans may find common ground among independent and moderate voters with their criticism of the media, threatening broadcast licenses seems like a very bad move. With GOP friendly outlets like Fox, there are plenty of platforms available for Republicans to refute allegations and criticism. Attacking the FCC licenses of broadcasters may appear to many independent voters as not only an act of weakness from those who are unable to win a debate, but even as potentially dangerous and dictatorial.

Although there are obvious issues concerning appearance of attacking the broadcast licenses of your political opponents in the media, the issue goes much deeper than that. NBC does not have a broadcast license. None of the media outlets do. That’s not how FCC broadcast licenses work. Local network stations receive broadcast licenses, like your local Fox or CBS station for example. Furthermore, the executive branch does not have the authority to order the FCC to target individual stations.

The Republican Party would be wise to stay very far away from this issue going forward. It does nothing but alienate them from the independent and moderate voters they need to win elections. If the GOP wants to continue controlling congress after this midterm election, they need to be focusing on issues that are popular among the average voter. This is definitely not one of those issues.

This article contains the personal opinions of the author. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Mess of Media. This disclaimer appears on all articles that feature the personal opinions of the author, as Mess of Media is an unbiased and nonpartisan source of information.

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