Brian Stelter: Trump’s Tweet Attacking Comcast Was ‘Egregious Use of Presidential Platform’
President Donald Trump‘s latest target for his seemingly daily Two Minutes Hate is the cable and internet service provider, Comcast, with the president tweeting to his millions of followers to encourage them to cancel their service, which CNN’s Brian Stelter called “an egregious use of his presidential platform.”
Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which includes NBC News and MSNBC, both frequent targets of Trump’s ire for what he feels is unfair and unflattering coverage of him and his administration.
It is not clear what triggered Trump’s tweeted outburst against Comcast this morning. He retweeted a 2017 tweet by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, in which Huckabee compared the company to the mafia, attempting a joke about how the mafia had “better service” than Comcast: “Sure they shoot you, but it’s over with and they don’t charge you for the bullet.”
Trump’s comment that he added to Huckabee’s tweet said, “Concast is known for its terrible service. On top of that they provide FAKE NEWS on MSDNC & @NBCNews. Drop them and go to a good provider!”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2020
“MSDNC” is an insult Trump has used before for MSNBC, implying that they are agents of the Democratic National Committee. It’s not clear if “Concast” was another attempted insult, or merely a typo.
Stelter responded, writing an analysis for CNN and sharing it on Twitter, calling Trump’s tweet “an egregious use of his presidential platform to punish a big American business.”
Today Trump told his followers to drop Comcast — an egregious use of his presidential platform to punish a big American business. Folks shrugged. Comcast execs barely batted any eyelashes. PR didn’t bother to comment. https://t.co/8ItPPDpJtn
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 14, 2020
However, as Stelter continued, Comcast did not seem to suffer any major consequences from Trump’s tweeted attack. “Folks shrugged. Comcast execs barely batted any eyelashes. PR didn’t bother to comment.”
Stelter noted that Google search trends for “Comcast customer service” were lower than recent days, perhaps indicating that people were not actually searching for the contact information to call and cancel their cable service.
Stelter also tossed in an observation that in 2019, Trump had tweeted a proposed boycott of AT&T, and the company’s stock surged that day.
“Trump’s provocations rarely get much attention, even on Twitter, his platform of choice,” wrote Stelter.
However, despite Trump’s Twitter battle calls not having the president’s desired effects, they were still problematic, he continued, quoting Norm Eisen, a senior fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution and a former ethics and government reform adviser for President Barack Obama.
“It is an abuse of power for an American president to use the awesome authority of the Oval Office to target an American company,” Eisen told Stelter. “It is even worse because here he is retaliating against the exercise of the First Amendment-protected constitutional rights.”
Eisen, who was an adviser for congressional Democrats during the impeachment inquiry earlier this year, added, “In the impeachment and trial, we pointed out the president’s propensity for abusing his power for purely personal and political ends, and warned that it would continue.”
“This tweet is proof of both,” he concluded. “History teaches us where it can lead when leaders send signals like this.”
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