The granddaughter of former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev warned Wednesday that President Trump's remark about TV stations losing their licenses is authoritarian and compared his use of the term "fake news" to the dictator Joseph Stalin.
"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. And they must be silenced," New School international affairs professor Nina Khrushcheva told the Washington Examiner.
In a Wednesday tweet, Trump said: "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!"
Trump was responding to an NBC report that he told military leaders he wanted a 10-fold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. He previously tweeted the report was "[p]ure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!"
Khrushcheva, the biological great-granddaughter but adoptive granddaughter of Stalin's successor, said in an email that "maybe because he is so used to reality TV, real news seem fake to him" and that she believes his use of the term is "very Orwellian — war is peace, ignorance is strength and so on."
The term "fake news" came into popular use as supporters of Hillary Clinton pointed out that during the 2016 election there were foreign-generated fictions passed off as news and shared on social media. Trump repurposed the term to describe mainstream media outlets he says report false news.
"Somewhere on the way to his real estate/reality TV career he forgot his lessons in civics and American democracy from high school," Khrushcheva said. "Or maybe he always had an ‘F' in those subjects; being rich, he didn't and still doesn't think they apply to him."
"For that we are all paying dearly," she continued. "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."