CNN Media Panel: ‘Autocrat’ Trump Violating First Amendment and Should Be Removed

CNN’s un-Reliable Sources went off the rails Sunday as media preacher Brian Stelter dedicated part of his sermon to attacking President Trump for slamming NBC News. “These next words from President Trump, this tweet I’m about to show you, these are not the words of a western democratic leader, they’re the word of an autocrat,” he declared. And added to mix were two guests who claimed the President’s words, not actions, were in direct violation of NBC’s First Amendment rights and he should be removed from office because of it.

This week alone we counted 12 anti-media tweets that dismissed real reporting as fake news,” Stelter whined to the viewers. “A lot of his anger was at NBC given reports about him wanting to increase the nuclear arsenal and things like that. So, a lot of anti-NBC tweets from the President.

After playing a clip of Trump telling the press that he thought it was “disgusting” that the media could publish inaccurate stories with little accountability, Stelter complained that there wasn’t enough time devoted to criticizing Trump for what he said. “It is an example of his disregard for the power of the press,” he argued.

The CNN media reporter then turning the floor over to Trevor Timm, the executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, to explain why Trump was violating to the Constitution:

But actually, there is a good argument that he is already violating the First Amendment just by making these threats. You know, there are Supreme Court cases and appeals court cases around the country that talk about how government officials, using their positions of power, can’t threaten our coerce private entities in censorship of self-censoring themselves for cases that would otherwise be protected speech.

Even though he claimed there was a “good argument” for his assertions, he failed to cite any actual case similar to what he was describing.

And in mocking those who would point out Timm’s hyperbolic rhetoric, Stelter joked about how “people over at Fox News are going to take this clip and they’re going to say: ‘Your triggered. You’re overreacting. Trump is all bark, no bite.’” But the truth is, it’s not only Fox News or people on the right who see the ridiculousness of Timm’s claims, which had been floating around for a while.

Back in March, Baltimore Sun media critic David Zurawik (a frequent guest on Reliable Sources) shot down Stelter’s freakouts when Trump knocked the press. “But with Trump, the thing is, that people have taken it to this extreme thing and almost gotten hysterical about it every time they push back,” Zurawik explained at the time. He also reminded viewers that Obama actually used the legal system to target and harass reporters. “Well, actions are what matter isn’t it in this world,” he asked Stelter.

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But on Sunday, Stelter then leaned on The Washington Post’s fake-conservative columnist, Jennifer Rubin to crank the hysteria up to 11. “I was horrified. And I guess I’m getting used to being horrified with this administration,” she told her host in reference to Trump’s bashing of the press. “So his denunciation– him saying that this is disgusting that the press gets to write everything that they want, he really is renouncing his oath of office.

She then slammed GOP senators for not getting up off their butts and using the 25th Amendment to kick Trump out of office:

And I would say to Senator Sasse and the rest of the Republicans in the Senate and the House who have been lumps on a log, they should do something about this. They should conduct hearings, they should begin considering the totality of all of his behavior whether he is, in fact, unfit to hold office.

Rubin warned that if they didn’t do as she said: “They are now in danger of not upholding their oaths.” And Stelter didn’t push back on her comments. In fact, he entertained them by touting how much was written last week calling for the same thing.

Clearly, an out of control scene over at CNN on Sunday. But while Stelter was protecting NBC News from Trump, he brushed over NBC’s apparent effort to cover up the Harvey Weinstein story exposed by The Huffington Post last week. He only briefly noted that they missed a chance to break a huge story and that Weinstein’s lawyers may have played a role.

Transcript below:

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CNN
Reliable Sources
October 15, 2017
11:16:52 AM Eastern

BRIAN STELTER: These next words from President Trump, this tweet I’m about to show you, these are not the words of a western democratic leader, they’re the word of an autocrat. He wrote this week: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public,” he says. Let’s talk about this in depth.

(…)

11:39:32 AM Eastern

STELTER: It’s not unusual for the man behind me to attack news coverage he doesn’t like. This week alone we counted 12 anti-media tweets that dismissed real reporting as fake news. A lot of his anger was at NBC given reports about him wanting to increase the nuclear arsenal and things like that. So, a lot of anti-NBC tweets from the President. He always has a target whether it’s NBC or CNN or The New York Times. And his contempt for a free press doesn’t just seem to be contained to Twitter.

(…)

STELTER: “Disgusting.” I thought quote did not get enough attention this week. It is an example of his disregard for the power of the press. Now we did hear from at least one GOP senator on this subject of those FCC license threats. Remember how we talk about earlier this hour, the President saying maybe network licenses should be revoked. Senator Ben Sasse, no friend of President Trump, warned this: He wrote: “Mr. President, are you recanting of the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect and the first amendment?” Some people say yes, he has.

Trevor, make the case here—You made this in a column this week, that the President already has violated the First Amendment just through his words.

TREVOR TIMM: Yeah. You know, I think everybody would agree that if Trump took government action against NBC for stories he didn’t like he would be violating the Constitution. But actually, there is a good argument that he is already violating the First Amendment just by making these threats. You know, there are Supreme Court cases and appeals court cases around the country that talk about how government officials, using their positions of power, can’t threaten our coerce private entities in censorship of self-censoring themselves for cases that would otherwise be protected speech. And that’s exactly what we have here.

STELTER: But people over at Fox News are going to take this clip and they’re going to say: “Trevor, your triggered. You’re overreacting. Trump is all bark, no bite.”

(…)

STELTER: Jennifer, you wrote about this for The Washington Post, what was your reaction to that sound bite?

JENNIFER RUBIN: I was horrified. And I guess I’m getting used to being horrified with this administration. But he took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and that includes the First Amendment. So his denunciation– him saying that this is disgusting that the press gets to write everything that they want, he really is renouncing his oath of office.

And I would say to Senator Sasse and the rest of the Republicans in the Senate and the House who have been lumps on a log, they should do something about this. They should conduct hearings, they should begin considering the totality of all of his behavior whether he is in fact unfit to hold office. And they haven’t demanded any hearings. There is a raft of behavior that he has engaged in that the Republicans have no interest in investigating what so ever. And they are now in danger of not upholding their oaths.

They took an oath of office to uphold the Constitution and I think in failing to check the President not only in this regard but in other behaviors and conflicts of interest in his — certainly his firing of the former FBI director, they are not taking their oaths of office seriously. There is nothing more important than the First Amendment. And for them simply to shrug their shoulders or roll their eyes or send a tweet I think really does not hold them in good stead.

This post originally appeared on NewsBusters

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