The top executive at MSNBC is in the crosshairs of former President Donald Trump, who accused him in a scathing message of unfairly leveraging government-sanctioned airwaves to launch continual attacks against him and his campaign.
Writing on Truth Social, Trump targeted CEO Brian Roberts of Comcast, which owns MSNBC, calling him a “slimeball” who endorses “illegal activity” at the network where liberal hosts frequently make outlandish criticisms about putting the Republican in jail, comparing him to Adolf Hitler, or suggesting he be shot.
“MSNBC (MSDNC) uses FREE government approved airwaves, and yet it is nothing but a 24-hour hit job on Donald J. Trump and the Republican Party for purposes of ELECTION INTERFERENCE,” Trump wrote. “Brian Roberts, its Chairman and CEO, is a slimeball who has been able to get away with these constant attacks for years.
“It is the world’s biggest political contribution to the Radical Left Democrats who, by the way, are destroying our Country. Our so-called “government” should come down hard on them and make them pay for their illegal political activity.
“Much more to come, watch!” Trump hinted ominously.
Since the end of the Fairness Doctrine in 1987, the Federal Communications Commission has declined to regulate news programs on its airwaves, a decision that over the years and prodded both Republicans and Democrats to accuse partisan networks and stations of bad behavior. The Federal Election Commission, meanwhile, has ruled that “any cost incurred in covering or carrying a news story, commentary, or editorial by any broadcasting station (including a cable television operator, programmer or producer)” does not constitute a political contribution to a candidate or party.
In 2017, President Trump suggested that the problem of “fake news” could be resolved by stripping stations like NBC of their licenses after the network reported that his secretary of state called him a “moron” during a private meeting.
“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!” Trump wrote at the time.
Any attempt to pull a network from the airwaves, however, would run up against FCC — and independent federal agency — which does not license networks but rather issues them to individual broadcast stations that are renewed on a staggered basis for eight-year periods.
Still, the ability of President Trump to influence the FCC is considerable should he return to the White House. The chairman of the agency’s board is selected by the president, and its five commissioners are made up of joint appointments by the president at the U.S. Senate. Even MSNBC hosts are terrified of the prospect.
In the meantime, President Trump will benefit by using MSNBC as a favorite foil on the campaign trail. He can point to some of the network’s most infamous hit jobs on him, including suggesting he will control the Justice Department’s authority and calling for a new Patriot Act to target conservatives.