U.S. Department of Energy / Flickr 06292017SE Unleashing American Energy 125...
U.S. Department of Energy / Flickr

Donald Trump is so ticked off about being made the butt of jokes on late-night television that he’s now asking for equal time. He popped out of bed this morning to tweet:

Four minutes later, having quickly built an entire grassroots movement in support of this notion, he tweeted:

Perhaps if he weren’t so adept at giving comedians megatons of slam-dunk material, he wouldn’t be such a laughingstock. Unfortunately, as we have learned over the nearly eight months he has been squatting in the White House, while he is a joke, he’s also a dangerous, impulsive megalomaniac whose actions and threats of action, thoroughgoing ignorance, petty rages, and constant barrage of lies about matters great and small are far from funny. 

This isn’t the first time since Trump won a majority of the Electoral College that he’s made this charge of unfairness and called for equal time. On November 20 last year, he tweeted:

Given how hard it is to be sure what Trump actually knows and understands, he may be conflating the FCC’s equal opportunities requirement still on the books and the Fairness Doctrine abolished three decades ago. The former rule only applies to candidate coverage. And even though Trump declared himself a candidate for reelection on day of his inauguration, the idea that this triggered the FCC requirement is a bigger stretch than Trump’s claims for huge numbers attending that inauguration.

The Fairness Doctrine dismantled by the Reagan administration, on the other hand did call for equal time, sort of. Its abolition gave hate radio a huge boost and paved the way for Fox Newsification of the media, and Republicans certainly don’t want to resurrect the doctrine that could undermine if not destroy those propaganda operations. 

So while Trump’s direction on this “equal time” is unclear, possibly even to the man himself, what is clear is that his pronouncements about media stories he doesn’t approve of show a clear penchant for authoritarian “solutions.” 

Two days ago, Trump tweeted that the Senate Intelligence Committee should investigate the media because of what he calls the flood of fake news! fake news! about him and top members of his regime, in this instance stories about Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wanting to resign and calling Trump a “fucking moron.” As David A. Graham wrote in The Atlantic:

Yet this is not the first time he has worked to undermine the free press. He has attacked reporters personally and en masse; he has incited crowds against them; he has accused reporters (with no evidence, of course) of sedition; and he has said he wants to change libel laws to make it easier to sue news outlets for misstatements. Less consequentially, though for some reason to greater attention, he has passed along memes of cartoonish violence against the outlets.

Trump’s focus on a few outlets, especially NBC News, CNN, and The New York Times, suggest he is interested not in across-the-board censorship so much as targeted persecution of those organizations that he feels are making his life difficult. The good news is there’s no reason at this moment to believe that the Senate Intelligence Committee would take up Trump’s invitation, but it’s hard to simply dismiss it. Trump has successfully pushed for bogus inquiries in the past, as when he accused President Obama of “wiretapping” him and then demanded his evidence-free allegation be investigated. The Justice Department concluded there was no evidence to support the claim.

Perhaps Jimmy Kimmel has arrived at the best approach for dealing with both the equal time complaints and everything else being inflicted on the nation by this atrocity of this pr*sident:

Of course, that would put Mike Pence in the Oval Office. And althought he might not be so noisy in his complaints about the media, his quiet actions in this regard (and so many others) could be more pernicious than those of his boisterous boss.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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