President Donald Trump yesterday proposed creating a government-run TV network that would broadcast globally to show the world how great America is.
Trump pitched the state-run network as an alternative to CNN. “Throughout the world, CNN has a powerful voice portraying the United States in an unfair and false way,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
….and false way. Something has to be done, including the possibility of the United States starting our own Worldwide Network to show the World the way we really are, GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2018
Law professor Richard Painter, who was the chief White House ethics counsel in the Bush administration from 2005 to 2007, tweeted that Trump’s proposed network sounds “Just like Pravda, the Reich Propaganda Ministry and other fine examples of state-run media.”
Trump continued to rail against the press today, complaining about news coverage of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into potential links between the Russian government and Trump’s 2016 presidential election campaign.
“The Fake News Media builds Bob Mueller up as a Saint, when in actuality he is the exact opposite,” Trump wrote, claiming that Mueller “is doing TREMENDOUS damage to our Criminal Justice System.”
US already runs TV and radio networks
There are already several US government-run TV and radio broadcasters overseen by the US Agency for Global Media, which describes itself as “an independent federal agency that seeks to inform, engage and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” The agency’s broadcasters are Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, Office of Cuba Broadcasting, Radio Free Asia, and Middle East Broadcasting Networks.
Trump is presumably aware of these networks’ existence, given that they’re supervised by a federal agency whose “budget request is part of the President’s budget request to the Congress.”
This existing US-run media agency has two overarching goals, which it describes as follows:
- Expanding freedom of information and expression, which are universally acknowledged as key to free, open, democratic societies, which in turn support American interests through stability, peace, alliances, and trade;
- Communicating America’s democratic experience and values, which serves the same purpose. In covering the United States, we open a window onto democracy in action.
Trump seems to want a network that would be more narrowly focused on touting the greatness of the US.
Democratic Coalition, a liberal grassroots group, called Trump’s suggested state-run media “an idea widely popular with dictators around the world to exercise thought control.”
Trump’s White House recently revoked CNN correspondent Jim Acosta’s press pass after Trump called Acosta “a rude, terrible person” during a press conference. A federal judge subsequently ordered the Trump administration to reinstate Acosta’s credentials. Fox News, usually one of Trump’s favorite networks, supported CNN against the White House in that legal dispute.