On Wednesday, President Trump told a room full of reporters that it was “frankly disgusting” they could write whatever they want—something popularly known as First Amendment rights.
Trump’s repeated attacks on the “fake news media” haven’t quite broached an explicit constitutional threat level until now and some Republicans are, well, concerned.
“Words spoke by the President of the United States matter,” Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said in a statement released on Wednesday night. “Are you tonight recanting of the oath you took on January 20 to preserve, protect, and defend the First Amendment?”
Sasse has previously criticized Trump’s frequent Twitter feuds. He has reluctantly admitted that his worldview is obviously “very different” from Trump’s and he withheld his support when Trump was only a far-fetched nominee, but his criticisms have rarely been so direct.
Later on Wednesday evening, Trump reissued a threat to press freedom and mulled over whether he could revoke the broadcasting licenses of “partisan” network news he didn’t like—something he definitely cannot do.
The head of the Federal Communications Commission, Jessica Rosenworcel, promptly shut down Trump’s fantasy, however, when she tersely tweeted, “not how it works,” with a link to a government guide to public broadcasting. “Freedom of the press is a cornerstone of our democracy,” Rosenworcel continued. “Hope my FCC colleagues can all be on the same page with respect to 1st Amendment.”