January 30, 2023

Trump just launched into a whine-fest over SNL with serious First Amendment ramifications

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His oath to defend the Constitution might as well have been a joke.


President Trump demonstrated that today in a series of tweets that portrayed a president either totally ignorant of the principles of free speech — to take the most charitable interpretation of the sentiments he expresses — or openly working against those principles for the sake of his own wounded ego and to prevent the disclosure of evidence of his own criminality.

He began with yet another of his frequent attacks on Saturday Night Live for its devastatingly parodic segments centered on Trump and his administration that it has typically used to lead off each new episode of the long running late night comedy program.

Never mind that the show has skewered presidents and their foibles since it first went on the air in the mid-70’s with Chevy Chase playing a clumsy and not particularly bright version of then President Gerald Ford.

Subsequent presidents have all been portrayed in one form or another ever since. Dana Carvey even developed a friendship with George H. W. Bush after that president took a liking to Carvey’s lampooning of his unique  speaking style. Phil Hartman and Darrell Hammond did their impressions of Bill Clinton, and Will Ferrell was among those who impersonated George W. Bush.

Yet, none of the subjects of the equally satirical portrayals threatened to have federal agencies investigate the program as the thin-skinned President Trump did today in his censorious tweets.

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Trump echoed the repressive messages of tin pot authoritarian dictators throughout the ages with his attacks on SNL and other late night comedy shows this morning.

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Trump seems to have forgotten that his Republican predecessor Ronald Reagan’s FCC revoked the “fairness doctrine” — which had required the holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced — in the mid-80s because it was seen as violating the free speech rights in the First Amendment.

In Trump’s paranoid vision of the world, any implicit criticism of himself or jokes at his expense must be the work of his enemies, so he laughably (or horrifyingly, actually) accuses the Democrats of that which he has declared incessantly that he is innocent — “Collusion” with Russia and the media companies producing the programs he finds so damaging to his self-image.

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He finds it hard to believe that these media conglomerates — who with their seemingly endless hours of free coverage during his campaign helped make him a implausibly credible candidate to begin with — are now so biased against him, accusing their reporting of any of the avalanche of negative facts about his administration leaking out of the White House as “fake news”.

He goes onto makes up fake approval numbers to bolster his case, inflating his average approval rating from recent polls a full 10 points above where it actually stands.

If only the “Sorry!” he appends to the end of his tweet was an apology for his lies and battering of the Constitution he should be upholding as he swore to rather than a taunt based on a made up perception of his public support.

Trump’s tweets this morning do bolster his otherwise delusional belief that America is in a state of national emergency . It’s just that the emergency is his own attacks on the First Amendment and freedom of speech in the fine tradition of fascist propaganda leaders throughout history.

Follow Vinnie Longobardo on Twitter.

Vinnie Longobardo

is the Managing Editor of Washington Press and a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile, & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music, and art.

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