President Trump’s Threat Against NBC’s Broadcast License Is Stupid and Counterproductive

President Donald Trump discusses the Raise Act, proposed immigration legislation, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 2, 2017. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

Our blustery President, in one of his fits of social media pique, suggested that perhaps the broadcast license for NBC News ought to be pulled based on some of their coverage:

 

It’s hard to know how seriously to take this sort of threat. Our blow-hard President says many things he doesn’t actually follow through on. Still, our national leader even insinuating that he might try and punish a media outlet for the coverage they produce is simply unacceptable.

It’s wrong. Beyond the pale. Republicans and Democrats alike ought to unite in condemning his comments, and many have. Notably Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska:

 

What’s frustrating is how counterproductive President Trump’s intemperate remarks are to the very real problem of left wing bias in the traditional media.

I made this same argument when North Dakota Congressman Kevin Cramer, who sits on a committee with oversight of the broadcast industry, sent letters to the television news networks asking pointed questions about their coverage. The bias Cramer is identifying is very real, and very problematic, but attempting to use the government to fix the problem is the wrong tactic.

It wouldn’t be very effective, for one thing. While millions still watch broadcast television, it’s hardly the monolithic platform for news it once was thanks to the internet and things like cable television and satellite radio.

For another, these moves only allows the news industry to play the martyr, distracting from what is a very real problem with viewpoint diversity in the newsroom.

Most of the national news media is produced by people who mostly live in urban, coastal communities and generally subscribe to progressive, left-wing world view. Which is, as a case in point, how a news outlet like CNN is able to produce an animation to explain to the public what a bump stock is that portrays a rifle with a grenade launcher and a silence but no actual bump stock:

Do you think that if CNN maybe had someone in their newsroom – a producer or a reporter or someone – with some actual experience with guns that might not have happened?

Of course. But instead we get reports lecturing us about gun control from a bunch of people utterly clueless about guns.

But the government can’t fix that problem. Not without trashing the 1st amendment, which none of us wants.

This problem has to be addressed by the marketplace, and it has been for decades already. The popularity of conservative talk radio in decades past was the direct result of a lack of conservative viewpoints in the traditional media. The internet has allowed more right-of-center viewpoints to proliferate. The conservative media today is extremely powerful.

Ironically, nobody should know that better than President Donald Trump whose election victory last year depended on it.

I know it’s not fashionable these days, what with all the hysteria about “fake news” and the like, but really we’re always best served when we allow the unfettered flow of information and opinion.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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