Concerns over President-elect Trump’s potential free speech suppression should only grow after the President-Elect criticized a Saturday Night Live sketch and asked for “equal time” to respond to satire.
SNL brought back Alec Baldwin for a sketch portraying Trump as underprepared and overwhelmed:
In the history of SNL political satire, the Trump sketch was on the gentle side of the scale, but even a slight comedic jab at the President-Elect brought a chilling reply from Trump on Twitter:
I watched parts of @nbcsnl Saturday Night Live last night. It is a totally one-sided, biased show – nothing funny at all. Equal time for us?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 20, 2016
There are several problems with Trump’s tweet.
What is the President-elect doing monitoring Saturday Night Live? He is supposed to be preparing for the most challenging job on Earth. He or his staff should not be wasting a second of their time on a late night comedy show.
The bigger problem is that the incoming Trump administration has open disdain for the First Amendment. There is no Fairness Doctrine, thanks to Republicans. If a Fairness Doctrine did exist, it would not cover comedy and satire.
Donald Trump is not entitled to equal time because he thinks that Saturday Night Live was mean to him.
That isn’t how the First Amendment works in any way, shape, or form.
The Saturday Night Live tweet came a day after the President-elect attacked the cast of the Broadway musical Hamilton and falsely accused them of being “rude” to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence. Journalists, who had to deal with Trump’s campaign of harassment and blacklisting while he was a candidate, are warning about his plan to suppress free speech as president.
Many Americans are still in a state of disbelief and refuse to believe that something as authoritarian as free speech suppression could happen in the United States.
Trump’s tweets over the last two days are clear signals that as President, he intends to not tolerate criticism, parody, or comedy.
The President-Elect hasn’t assumed office yet, and he is already trying to chill free speech.
Trump will have the power of the presidency at his disposal soon. His tweets are no longer a joke. They are a warning.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association