Does Trump want a safe space from comedians?

Story highlights

  • Dean Obeidallah: President's complaints about TV hosts mocking him are misplaced
  • Late-night comedians have been mocking their Presidents for decades

Dean Obeidallah, a former attorney, is the host of SiriusXM radio's daily program "The Dean Obeidallah Show" and a columnist for The Daily Beast. Follow him @deanofcomedy. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN)On Saturday morning, Donald Trump took to Twitter to whine that comedians are being unfair to him ... again. This time, Trump tweeted: "Late Night host are dealing with the Democrats for their very "unfunny" & repetitive material, always anti-Trump! Should we get Equal Time?"

Awww, poor orange snowflake. Looks like the President needs a safe space from those mean comedians. (Imagine if President Obama had called for Fox News to give "equal time" to progressives?!)
Dean Obeidallah
But what I want to know is did Trump live on another planet before he ran for President? Because late night comedians have been mocking their commander-in-chiefs for decades! Comedians telling jokes about our President are as American as apple pie, baseball and opposing Russian government interference in our elections.
    Of course, Trump trying to silence comedians who mock him is nothing new. In October, as the GOP presidential nominee, Trump called for "Saturday Night Live" to be canceled because the show, in his words, did "a hit job on me." And in December as President-elect, Trump lashed out at "SNL" again, calling it "horrible" for the way it mocked of him, adding sinisterly "who knows how long that show is going to be on."
    But even before running for the White House, Trump was lashing out at comedians who dared to mock him "unfairly." For example, over the years, he took to Twitter to slam Jon Stewart for his jokes at Trump's expense. In 2013, Trump even stunningly sued comedian Bill Maher for $5 million over a joke that got under Trump's famously thin skin.
    This, however, is different. Trump is now President of the United States and is calling for late night comedians to stop mocking him. And lets be clear, Trump calling for "equal time" means demanding comedians have less freedom of expression. So how far will Trump go with this? Would his administration use its FCC powers to enforce this -- even in less direct ways, such as making it more difficult to renew broadcast licenses? Surely no one -- not even Trump supporters -- can rule out the idea of Trump trying something.
    Why does this kind of talk worry me? Because I've performed stand-up comedy in countries in the Middle East where comics are effectively forbidden from mocking the leaders of those nations. In fact, Bassem Youssef, dubbed the Jon Stewart of Egypt, was arrested for mocking his country's President at the time, and he now lives in effective in exile in the United States.
    Does Trump really want that same type of crackdown on those who dare mock him? Or is this just another Trump effort to distract his base from his failed legislative agenda by giving them some more red meat? Remember, we have seen that approach already over the last few weeks with Trump's attacks on black NFL athletes and on the Latina Mayor of San Juan. Now, Trump is turning on Hollywood.
    With Trump's track record, it's hard to dismiss the fear that there might be something more to this than just veiled warnings. At the very least, it seems like he is using his Twitter bully pulpit to pressure late night shows to self-censor for fear of a Trump-inspired backlash. That in itself is an un-American attack on our freedom of speech.
    None of this is to suggest that most late night comedians aren't critical of Trump. They are. But that's their job, whoever is in office. And they are in good company in being critical of this President -- Trump's approval rating with the public right now is at an historic low for this point in his term.
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    And the President anyway doesn't help himself. For example, Friday was the one-year anniversary of the release of Trump's infamous "Access Hollywood" tape. That tape was a nightmare for Trump, but a dream come true for comedians.
    But there is one other reason, aside from them not holding the White House, why so few comedians are going after Democrats: There just aren't that many Trump loving, right-wing comedians. Are progressives supposed to apologize because right comedians aren't popular enough to be given their own late night shows? Sure, there are a few famous conservative comedians, such as Dennis Miller. But generally, conservatives don't seem to have the right skillset to be a successful comedian. (Although Sean Hannity are Tucker Carlson are both unintentionally hilarious.)
    All this seems to leave Trump with three options. One, he could use the power of the federal government to clamp down on comedic content of which he doesn't approve. Two, Trump could learn to laugh at himself and understand that late-night comedians have long mocked Presidents. Or three, he could simply resign. It's Trump's call, but here's hoping he picks options two or three -- even if that does mean a little less fodder for late-night comedy.