On Wednesday, President Donald Trump told the White House press pool that he thinks it’s “frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”
Though this latest attack on First Amendment protections, taken in tandem with the president’s ill-conceived threat to revoke NBC’s broadcasting license for reporting he calls “fake news,” is alarming, Fox News’ Shep Smith asked viewers to have heart with a history lesson.
“This presidential tactic is not new in the Trump era,” Smith said in response to Trump’s reported comments. “It dates to the Nixon administration. It’s called, affectionately, ‘working the refs.'”
Prior to President Richard Nixon’s resignation amid the Watergate scandal, he and his aides took a similarly hard-lined stance against media they saw as “against” them. Nixon “invited top broadcast executives to the White House and told them ‘your reporters just can’t stand the fact that I’m in this office.'”
“Sound familiar?” he asked, referencing Trump’s late November 2016 meeting with TV news executives where he berated them for their “unfair coverage” of him during the campaign season.
“The press secretary at the time declared that all of the TV networks were anti-Nixon and that they would pay for that ‘sooner or later one way or another,'” he continued, noting that that was a direct quote from Nixon’s press secretary Ronald Ziegler.
“[Nixon] targeted The Washington Post, its television stations and more. His prosecutors drafted legislation to impede journalism,” Smith said. “In the end, journalism ended his political career. The First Amendment stood firm and almost 50 years later, it does today.”
Watch the Fox News host detail the ways Nixon’s attacks on the media came back to bite him below.