President Donald Trump's attacks on the media for reporting so-called "fake news" are similar to the way Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin silenced opponents, according to the granddaughter of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.
Nina Khrushcheva told the Washington Examiner that Trump's threat to remove NBC's broadcasting license after it reported that the president called for a tenfold increase in America's nuclear weapons stockpile was an example of authoritarianism.
"Here, President Trump defined 'fake news' the way Joseph Stalin defined 'enemies of the people:' if they offer a slightest objection to his rule they must be wrong," Khrushcheva told the Examiner. "And they must be silenced."
Khrushcheva, a professor at The New School, was reacting to Trump's tweet Oct. 11 on the NBC report.
"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!" tweeted Trump.
Khrushcheva suggested that "maybe because he is so used to reality TV, real news seem fake to him," before going on to argue that his use of the term "fake news" is "very Orwellian -- war is peace, ignorance is strength and so on."
The professor remarked that Trump has forgotten his high school lessons in civics and democracy.
"For that we are all paying dearly," added Khrushcheva. "And the longer he stays in, offering more and more somewhat Stalinesque amendments to American democracy, the more autocratic erosion to this once wonderful system we will experience."
Khrushcheva was joined in her criticism of the president's response to the NBC report by several politicians, including Democratic Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts who wrote a letter to the Federal Communication Commission.
"I write to urge you to maintain the Federal Communication Commission's charter as an independent agency and withstand any urges from President Trump to harm the news media and infringe upon the First Amendment," Markey wrote, according to The Independent.
Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire agreed.
"This is an unacceptable attack on the free press by Trump," she tweeted.
Trump does not have the power to remove NBC's broadcast license, The Washington Post reports. Not only is this because the FCC is independent, but also because NBC does not have a broadcasting license. Instead, each the many stations that are a part of its network have their own broadcasting license.
The FCC will only investigate a station for falsifying the news if there is specific evidence, "such as testimony or other documentation, from individuals with direct personal knowledge that a licensee or its management engaged in the intentional falsification of the news."
Sources: Washington Examiner, The Independent, The Washington Post, Donald J. Trump/Twitter / Featured Image: Shealah Craighead via The White House/Flickr / Embedded Images: German Federal Archive/Wikimedia Commons, Gage Skidmore/Flickr