Trump pushes to challenge media network licenses

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President Trump is doubling down on his suggestion that the federal government “challenge” the broadcast licenses of networks that report what he deems “fake news.”

“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked,” he wrote on Twitter. “Not fair to public!”


Earlier on Wednesday, Trump blasted NBC News over a report that he had once expressed a desire to increase the United States’s nuclear arsenal “tenfold,” asking “at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license?”

“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 tweeted. 

During an Oval Office meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, he also told reporters Wednesday that it is “disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants to write.”

Trump said, when asked, that he has no plans to seek limits on what the press writes or reports, but his comments have increasingly drawn concern.

“This threat alone could intimidate the press and lead to skewed and unfair reporting,” Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) warned on Wednesday, following Trump’s comment that NBC’s license should be challenged.

He and other Democrats called on Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to publicly condemn the president’s suggested action.

“Now, the FCC must show that it is loyal to the law, not the president, and make clear that it rejects this kind of interference,” Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) said in a statement.

Experts say that Trump does not have the authority to simply revoke broadcast licenses, especially on the grounds of what the networks air.

Broadcast licenses are issued to local television stations by the FCC. The commission does not grant licenses to national networks, like NBC, ABC or CBS.

Still, the president’s suggestion that the government review the licenses of news networks spurred backlash, with some critics accusing Trump of denigrating the First Amendment of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech and the press.

Trump has frequently accused news outlets who cover his administration critically of reporting “fake news.”

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