WASHINGTON—Several prominent press freedom groups, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Free Press, Media Law Resource Center, PEN America, and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press issued the following statement today expressing concern with President Trump’s taunt to broadcasters.

“When coming from the leader of the free world, words matter. And if the First Amendment means anything, it’s that the government can’t censor news because it’s critical of the government. The president should be working to uphold the values of the First Amendment, not tearing them down.

The president’s tweet this morning read in full: “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN . . . . With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!”

The Federal Communications Commission is responsible for reviewing and granting broadcast licenses. The government could theoretically abuse the license renewal process in an attempt to silence critics of the government. This is the latest verbal assault against U.S. press freedoms by the current administration.”


PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect open expression in the United States and worldwide. We champion the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Our mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.

CONTACT: Sarah Edkins Lien, Director of Communications, sedkins@pen.org, +1 646-779-4830