Trump Threatens NBC’s TV License After Network Publishes Unfavorable Reports

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

After suggesting last week that American media outlets should be investigated by Congress, President Donald Trump on Wednesday appeared to threaten NBC’s broadcast license over the network’s reporting on tensions between the President and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

As a businessman and candidate, Trump frequently threatened to sue news organizations over unflattering coverage. But his latest threat of using the power of the federal government to go after media companies represents a dramatic escalation in his ongoing war against the press.

An NBC News report about Trump asking for more nuclear weapons — which reportedly is what pushed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to call Trump a “moron” this summer — instigated Trump’s most recent Twitter attacks on the media.

He called the report “pure fiction” that was “made up to demean.”

He then raised the question of challenging news networks’ licenses saying the “fake news” is “bad for our country!”

The remarks are apparently referencing the Federal Communications Commissions’ (FCC) licensing policies, which allow companies like NBC and CNN to use public airwaves to broadcast their programs.

The FCC does not license the TV or radio networks, but rather individual broadcast stations, according to its online policy manual. It also is not responsible for the material that is put on the air.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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