US President Donald Trump has suggested challenging licenses for NBC and other broadcast news networks following reports by NBC News that his secretary of state had called him a "moron" after a discussion of the US nuclear arsenal.
"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, a Republican, wrote in a post on Twitter on Wednesday.
Trump and his supporters have repeatedly used the term "fake news" to cast doubt on media reports critical of his administration, often without providing any evidence to support their case that the reports were untrue.
Trump kept up his criticism of the media in an appearance with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, saying: "It is frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write."
In a tweet late on Wednesday, Trump said: "Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!"
Any move to challenge media companies' licenses, however, would likely face significant hurdles.
The Federal Communications Commission, an independent federal agency, does not license broadcast networks, but issues them to individual broadcast stations that are renewed on a staggered basis for eight-year periods.
A spokesman for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai did not immediately comment but FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel responded by tweeting a link to an FCC fact sheet. "Not how it works," she said on Twitter.
In the early 1970s, then-President Richard Nixon and his top aides discussed using the FCC's license renewal process as a way of punishing the Washington Post for its coverage of the Watergate burglary that ultimately brought down his presidency.
NBC News has reported on tensions between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and has said Trump sought a dramatic increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a meeting with national security advisers in July. NBC reported Tillerson made his "moron" comment after that meeting.
Trump on Saturday also suggested he should get "equal time" because of what he described as late-night television hosts' "anti-Trump" material.
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