Very recently, I posted a serious question, which I have been wanting to ask since the general elections in the US had ended.


My question, which is political but closely related to the history of News broadcasting and TV talk shows in America, was put on hold for being off-topic

I looked at the off-topic list in the help center and read the following:

  • Locating or purchasing Movies or TV content
  • Technology questions about playing content
  • Unimportant trivia that does not add to the understanding or appreciation of the title.
  • TV news, sports and current affairs
  • A title's release date or rumors about a specific title or series.
  • Opinions about or recommendations for a movie or TV show

My question doesn't seem to be included in that list. My question shows that there has been a precedence, albeit in Italy, the question also identifies the American TV show hosts whom I think might be at risk, TV celebrities who are well-known for being outspoken opponents of Donald Trump.

  • If the answer is basically "no" and it has strong supporting evidence, is that not a helpful and informative answer to have in the SE Movies&TV database?
  • Is there no space for a serious question about the laws and regulations that govern broadcasting in the US?

I appreciate any help or advice you can offer, so any suggestions on how to make my question
on-topic for this site are very welcomed.

UPDATE (22.50 GMT)

I've deleted the question. I'd like to say thanks to those who gave some good tips and advice. But if the question is considered poor, there's no point in keeping it where it's not wanted.

Thank you anyway for your time.

  • 4
    "TV news, sports and current affairs" ?
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Dec 28, 2016 at 13:33
  • No, I'm asking if it had ever occurred in the past, and could it occur in the present. The TV hosts I listed are all liberals, with succesful shows who are repeatedly critical of the president-elect. You don't think the newly elected president feels irritated by them? I keep hearing how thin-skinned he is...
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 13:56
  • 4
    I know you're asking about history - but (I believe) the intent of that line is to make topics about TV news & sport .... reporters, anchors, shows off topic.
    – iandotkelly Mod
    Dec 28, 2016 at 14:36
  • @iandotkelly my understanding was that that's related to actual news content/coverage. I would be fine with news history. Though, that question might be better framed as a Law question as "is it legal for the president to ask a news organization to fire a reporter?" We are not a legal site, so if Mari-Lou's question is centered on the question of legality, it's better on law. The Fourth Estate is much broader than tv news and the laws governing it predate tv.
    – Catija
    Dec 28, 2016 at 15:51
  • 1
    @Catija wouldn't that be Politics, rather? Since it's about the political power a USA president has?
    – SQB
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:13
  • @SQB possibly but this seems like a legal question. I don't know much about the politics site.
    – Catija
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:16
  • Someone suggested asking over at Politics, another History, now it's Law, sooner or later someone will suggest Workplace.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:18
  • Well... You are asking a question about legal issues that relate to politics and media... Of course it will have multiple sites that would work. The point is that, while it might be possible to reframe the question to fit here, you will likely get better answers on sites that specialize in the central point of the question... Which in my mind is a question of legality... Remember, the same laws govern TV news as print. This could be asked about a newspaper reporter just as easily and have nearly the same answer- no, it's illegal (in the US). This makes it a better question for someone else.
    – Catija
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:27
  • 2
    Am I to understand that TV news TODAY is off-topic (as defined in our help center), but if you wait say a year, it becomes TV News HISTORY and is now on-topic? If you say yes, then that cutting it too fine for my taste. I am with @iandotkelly who I believe is trying to say that if it's off-topic today, it's off-topic (period). TV News history should go to another site. Something that is polarizing today is quite likely to stay polarizing. History of things that were never off-topic should be what is appropriate here.
    – John
    Dec 28, 2016 at 17:00
  • @John I agree to a point. Questions about news coverage about a certain event should never be on topic but this is about a news personality doing their job. I see it as similar to a question about an actor's experience on a specific project, for example. It's not a question about a news story. It's a question about a tv person.
    – Catija
    Dec 28, 2016 at 21:27
  • @Catija I have read many of your posts, and you are undoubtedly an enlightened person. Your point is compelling as usual, and I am glad you agree with the distinction I brought up. As you say, movie and TV personalities would also include televised news media personalities – with the proviso that actual news events are not included in the post. Regarding TV news personalities, that is probably hard to do, and will run the risk of being viewed as off-topic by many.
    – John
    Dec 28, 2016 at 22:23
  • 3
    Looking at the question in detail, there are three bulleted questions. The first can be extended to: Have any VIPs (high enough to get the public’s attention) ever said a reporter should resign? Many may view this as trivia, but barring that, OK. The second asked essentially about our Constitution and free speech and press. This is better off at another site. The third is a direct question about the President-elect (we only care because he got elected). That is current events and is off-topic. Overall, this is a very poor question. The only way to salvage it is keep the first bullet alone.
    – John
    Dec 28, 2016 at 22:24
  • @John you convinced me. The question is gone, deleted.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


You're asking a bunch of questions all in one. The first step would be to disentangle them. You're asking (quoted from your question, numbered by me for convenience):

  1. Has anything similar happened in the history of US broadcasting? e.g. has there ever been a reporter or TV show host "asked" (told) to leave by the US President?
  2. Could the soon-to-be-incumbent president of the US, Donald Trump, propose a similar thing today?
  3. Is there any legislation in the US which prevents the US President or his administration from appointing TV show hosts or firing journalists and political satirists from national airwaves?
  4. More specifically, are the following satirical and left-wing TV hosts; Stephen Colbert, John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Seth Meyers, and Bill Mayer's jobs "safe"?
  1. is history of USA TV. That should be on topic here and could be asked as a separate question.
  2. is speculation. No-one knows. Trump could propose anything, but if such a proposal would actually being acted upon, is anyone's guess.
  3. that should be a question for either the Law Stack or the Politics Stack. My preference would be the latter, since it's a question about political power.
  4. Speculation once again.

So one question that should probably be on topic here, one question for another stack, and two questions that should best be dropped, since their speculative and highly polarising nature makes them unfit for any stack.

Also, by framing it as a question about what Trump could or would do, you've brought quite a bit of political tension to your question. My advice would be to remove most if not all of it, to prevent people from voting on your question based on that, rather than on the merits of the question itself.

  • I can't remove references to Trump that's the whole point of me asking in the first place. If the answer to Q1 is "no, never" then the next logical step are Qs 2 and 3. Q4 is there to show "who" might be bear the brunt. Is the only reason for firing a host or closing a talk show ever to do with the US ratings?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:36
  • 2
    @Mari-LouA Well, you could frame it like "President Elect Donald Trump has responded negatively to criticism and spoofs on satirical TV shows such as (exampels here). Italian president Berlusconi has (insert story here), which made me wonder, has anything similar ever happened in the USA? Has a US president ever used their power or influence to get a TV reporter or TV show host fired?"
    – SQB
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:41
  • @Mari-LouA Then indeed your third question is the next logical thing to ask, but most likely out of scope for this site. Your second and your fourth question both are only answerable by speculation and therefore off topic on every stack I know of.
    – SQB
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:45
  • Would that wording make it on topic for this site?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:45
  • Good suggestion about deleting Q2, I'll do that now.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:46
  • 1
    @Mari-LouA that wording might make it on topic for this site, but I'm just one user and not really one of the core regulars. My advice would be to wait for the votes to come in. Then, if it seems as if it will be accepted, I think your best bet would be to ask a new question, rather then radically altering your current one.
    – SQB
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:47
  • No, I think I'll stick with this one, the downvotes might work in my favour :) The reference to Trump is implicit.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 16:51
  • I have edited the question, I think it's more TV orientated now.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Dec 28, 2016 at 18:54
  • @Mari-LouA I'd still split it up into a) has it ever happened? (TV history should be on topic) b) does the president or the government currently have the power to do so? (if so, through the FCC; better fit on Politics or Law) c) this is a better way of putting it: less speculative, although still too much of a judgement call (how to rate how critical Trump has been of them).
    – SQB
    Dec 28, 2016 at 21:28
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – SQB
    Dec 28, 2016 at 21:28

I'll also add that this is what the Help Center says is on-topic for the whole site:

If your question generally covers...

Analysis of content or theme of all forms of Movies and TV series Questions about a Movie or TV show's production. The works of a director / an actor / a writer related to Movies & TV Identifying a Movie or TV series (see below for details)

Now, this should probably be updated to be a little bit more inclusive, but what I personally see as EXPLICITLY missing is anything to do with LAW and POLITICS when it comes to movies and tv. We (at least I) don't care about that sort of stuff on this site.

  • 1
    Not caring doesn't make something off topic. There are also several questions about legal issues related to the film industry on this site and they have been generally accepted as long as they were not asking for individual advice on legal issues. This particular question simply doesn't relate to TV specifically, which is why I don't think it belongs here.
    – Catija
    Dec 28, 2016 at 21:24

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