Trump Reportedly Directed the Justice Department to Go After SNL for Making Fun of Him
A new report reveals former President Donald Trump tried to mobilize the Justice Department and other parts of the government against Saturday Night Live and other late-night comedy shows to stop them from satirizing him.
Trump made his disdain for SNL abundantly clear during his presidency, blasting their ridicule for him on numerous occasions. Having frequently complained about these “total Republican hit jobs” and calling them “very unfair” when he still had his Twitter account, the former president suggested more than once that the Federal Election Commission or the Federal Communications Commission should go after SNL because of their “one sided media coverage.”
The Daily Beast reports that there was a time in March of 2019 when Trump was watching an SNL rerun, and the former president got incensed to the point where he consulted his administration officials to find out what actions the government could take against his comic detractors.
“According to two people familiar with the matter,” the Beast reports, “Trump had asked advisers and lawyers in early 2019 about what the Federal Communications Commission, the courts systems, and — most confusingly to some Trump lieutenants — the Department of Justice could do to probe or mitigate SNL, Jimmy Kimmel, and other late-night comedy mischief-makers.”
As the report notes, satire is protect speech under the First Amendment, and shows like SNL and late-night comedy are not bound to “equal time” rules like Trump frequently claimed they were. To this point, one of the Beast’s sources said Trump’s efforts were “more annoying than alarming to be honest with you,” and another source said Trump was told that the Justice Department doesn’t handle matters like these.
“Trump seemed disappointed to hear that there was no actual legal recourse or anything that the FCC or DOJ could do to punish late-night, anti-Trump comedy,” the report went on. “‘Can something else be done about it?’ Trump replied, according to this source, to which they responded with some version of “I’ll look into it” (This person says that to this day, they have not, in fact, ‘looked into it’).”
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