Trump Wanted to Sic FCC, DOJ on Saturday Night Live, Late Night TV

So remember back during the dark, pre-pandemic days of Donald Trump, back before he lost the 2020 election and then attempted to have some of his followers storm the U.S. capital and kill members of Congress (allegedly, depending on your perspective)? It was March 2019 and Donny was raging at the television once again- this time, at an episode of NBC's long-running Saturday Night Live. We'll move past the jokes we can make that it was a repeat he was watching and get right to his tweet thoughts on the matter. "It's truly incredible that shows like Saturday Night Live, not funny/no talent, can spend all of their time knocking the same person (me), over & over, without so much of a mention of 'the other side,'" he posted back in the day. "Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows. Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this?"

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Saturday Night Live (Image: NBCU)

We're guessing you know where this is going, right? Not content to just let it go (really?), The Daily Beast reported that Trump spoke to advisers and legal counsel about siccing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the court systems, and (most disturbing and confusing) the Department of Justice on not just SNL but also the other late-night shows that Trump claimed were treating him unfairly. Between sources and emails released by the House Oversight Committee (first reported by The New York Times), we learn that Trump's requests were never given serious consideration by those he spoke with (as far as we know) and that they were "more annoying than alarming."

For his part, Trump had no basic understanding of the "equal time" rule, using it as a blanket argument whenever he would find himself criticized during a television show while not realizing that SNL, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, and other late-night shows are protected under staged satire protections. It's possible that Trump is confusing the "equal time" rule (offering political candidates equal time on a TV or radio station to campaign) with the FCC's "fairness doctrine" that requires "fair and balanced" coverage of issues of serious public importance. Small problem? The FCC stopped enforcing the doctrine in 1987 and officially revoked it in 2011. In the end, it appears Trump's advisers had nothing for Donny other than the harsh reality for him that there was nothing that the FCC or DOJ could do to punish all of late-night for Trump's bruised ego.

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About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.
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