According to a report from the Daily Beast, Donald Trump pressed aides to get government lawyers to go after late-night TV shows like Saturday Night Live for the way that they were treating him.
Trump, whose blustery style was recreated by actor Alec Baldwin, was reportedly obsessed with how he was mocked by late-night comics and reportedly asked administration officials to bring legal pressure to bear to stop it -- only to be told there was no legal mechanism available.
According to the report, in 2019, Trump tweeted, "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. Like an advertisement without consequences. Same with Late Night Shows. Should Federal Election Commission and/or FCC look into this?"
That tweet was not just the president ranting to his base -- he was serious.
"It was, on its face, a ridiculous question and threat, as SNL is obviously satire, and therefore a form of protected speech in America that pissed-off commanders-in-chief have no authority to directly subvert. However, then-President Trump went farther than simply tweeting his displeasure with the late-night comedians and SNL writers' room," the report states. "The internal discussions that followed, between the former leader of the free world and some of his political and legal advisers, once again underscored just how much Trump wanted to use the full weight and power of the U.S. government to punish his personal enemies."
According to the report, those on the receiving end of Trump's complaints considered the problem trivial and not worth the time to investigate it, with one insider claiming, "It was more annoying than alarming, to be honest with you."
"According to two people familiar with the matter, Trump had asked advisers and lawyers in early 2019 about what the Federal Communications Commission, the courts systems, and—most confusingly to some Trump lieutenants—the Department of Justice could do to probe or mitigate SNL, Jimmy Kimmel, and other late-night comedy mischief-makers," the Beast reported.
"In early 2019, Trump had to be repeatedly advised that the 'equal-time' rules to which he appeared to refer wouldn't even apply in this situation, given that late-night shows and NBC sketch comedy are clearly staged satire, and thus not bound by the same requirements of other forms of broadcast TV and radio," the report continues. "The other source, who has a law degree, said that when they briefly discussed this with Trump more than two years ago, they made a point of saying that the Justice Department, in particular, doesn't handle these matters, anyway."
That advice reportedly infuriated the ex-president who replied, "Can something else be done about it?" only to be mollified by an aide responding "with some version of 'I'll look into it.' (This person says that to this day, they have not, in fact, 'looked into it.')"
You can read more here.