Conan O’Brien on the New Presidential Alert Text Idea: ‘I’m Freaked Out’

Liberal comedian is one of many to push back on a system that FEMA is testing to help people in emergencies

Image Credit: Pete Marovich / Bloomberg

The Federal Emergency Management Agency — FEMA — announced recently that it will be testing a new emergency broadcast system later this month that would allow President Donald Trump to text Americans directly.

The Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are sent out to cellphones across the country when there is a major weather event or a national emergency.

The alerts will show up on people’s phones as “presidential alerts.”

“The national test will use the same special tone and vibration as with all WEA messages (i.e., Tornado Warning, Amber Alert),” FEMA said in a public statement.

The agency added that the new service “provides the president with the communications capability to address the nation during a national emergency.”

At least one person is not a fan of this new idea: leftist late-night host Conan O’Brien.

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“Starting tomorrow a new version — I’m not making this up — a new version of the emergency broadcast system is going to allow President Trump to send texts to all of our cellphones. That’s true. That’s a true thing. Starting tomorrow,” said O’Brien in the opening monologue of his show Monday night.

The comedian continued, “Trump said, ‘I thought I’d try announcing emergencies instead of just causing them.’ I’m freaked out by that. Yeah. Everyone in America’s going to get 3:00 a.m. Angry texts while he’s on the toilet. That’s our new reality.”

Some on social media have also been railing against the new system.

“I do not believe for one second that Trump will not abuse this system for his own sick personal agenda. These so-called ‘presidential alerts’ are not necessary and I will disable the emergency alert feature on my phone permanently if I get even one,” wrote one Twitter user.

Another said, “We don’t need presidential alerts! We already have public emergency alert messaging. This is not necessary! We should be able to opt out of these messages. What would he have to say that local agencies can’t. No!”

“I do not believe for one second that Trump will not abuse this system for his own sick personal agenda,” wrote one person.

Yet another said, “You better figure out how people can opt out. My settings say presidential alerts are mandatory and can’t be turned off. On my phone I choose what I want and what I don’t want. So figure it out — I won’t have my privacy invaded like that!!!!”

Check out Conan O’Brien’s thoughts on the new system below:

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