President Trump on Wednesday suggested TV networks should have their broadcasting licenses challenged over “fake news” — one of his most overt threats yet to the free press.
“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!” he wrote in a tweet.
Trump’s TV tantrum came after an NBC News report said he asked in a July Pentagon meeting for the U.S. to increase its nuclear arsenal tenfold. After the meeting, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly called Trump a “f—–g moron,” which NBC first reported last week. Trump and the U.S. State Department denied the insult, though Tillerson himself did not.
In another Wednesday tweet, Trump wrote, “Fake @NBCNews made up a story that I wanted a ‘tenfold’ increase in our U.S. nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!”
Donald Trump at the NBCUniversal Winter TCA Press Tour in January 2015.
(Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Trump’s war with the so-called “fake news” media has been an obsession since he started his presidential campaign, but his most recent threats have become much more severe.
In a tweet last week, he suggested Congress should investigate news networks for reporting stories he deemed “fake.”
“Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!” he wrote.
Trump’s Wednesday threat suggests he wants a federal agency, the Federal Communications Commission, to crack down on networks he doesn’t like.
Donald Trump in the White House
The FCC regulates broadcast stations, including NBC, since the airwaves are considered public. It has the ability to penalize the stations or revoke licenses for a variety of offenses, including knowingly broadcasting false information.
But there is little chance that Trump’s complaints would warrant such action, since there is no evidence NBC is publishing fake stories.
Hundreds of Trump supporters this year have written to the FCC asking it to revoke the license for CNN, even though the agency does not regulate cable.