Trump says he'll shut networks over 'fake news'

President Trump And First Lady Welcome Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau And His Wife Gregoire To The White House

A suggestion by President Donald Trump that a United States regulator pull broadcast licenses from TV networks over what Trump calls "fake news" has been met by silence from the watchdog's head Ajit Pai, who has a history of defending free speech rights.

Trump questioned whether FCC licenses should be taken from NBC after the network published a story on Wednesday saying he had called for a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal in a meeting with military and security officials.

It isn't clear that Mr Trump would be able to easily revoke broadcast licenses for any of the major networks simply because he disagrees with the content they air, however. "Not fair to public!"

Second of all, and this is something that you would think a highly intelligent person like Donald Trump would understand, CNN points this out very well, there is no broadcast license for NBC. A State Department spokesperson later denied Tillerson used that word to insult Trump.

Trump's tweet comes after NBC News ran a story citing three anonymous USA officials who said Trump wanted to increase the US nuclear arsenal by almost 10 times. After his tweet, several press freedom groups put out their own statement saying "the president should be working to uphold the values of the First Amendment, not tearing them down".

Trump continued to rail against NBC News on Thursday, calling the network "disgusting". Tina Pelkey, an FCC spokeswoman, declined to comment. Comcast owns 10 NBC stations, including in NY and Los Angeles, and it said in a filing this year that "substantially all of our broadcast television station licenses have pending applications for renewal".

"Every day that goes by without comment from the FCC Chairman is a continued threat to the First Amendment", Pallone and Doyle said.

But while Pai was previously willing to criticize unnamed people on Twitter for demanding license revocations, Democratic lawmakers want him to stand up to the president. @AjitPaiFCC committed to Congress to speak up at times like this. "I don't always agree and like what you guys write, but you have a right to do it", Ryan said. Pai said he would act independently of the White House on media-related matters.

The FCC said in the fact sheet it expects "station licensees to be aware of the important problems and issues facing their local communities and to foster public understanding by presenting programming that relates to those local issues". And cable news outlets need no license.

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