Outraged over an NBC News report that shed light on why Secretary of State Rex Tillerson might have referred to him as a “moron” this summer, President Donald Trump lashed out at the network on Twitter, saying he would like to see purveyors of false reporting be thrown off the air.
“Network news has become so partisan, distorted, and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked,” Trump said Wednesday night. “Not fair to public!”
Earlier in the day, Trump took specific aim at NBC, which used to be his business partner on the hit show, “The Apprentice.”
“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.
The president’s latest rage at the mainstream media came as a result of a story NBC reported Wednesday morning alleging that Trump called for a “tenfold” increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal at a meeting with national security advisors in July. According to the report, Trump was disheartened by a graphic that showed the course of national de-proliferation from the heights of the Cold War, and insisted that it was a sign of American weakness to have so few nuclear weapons. NBC reported that military leaders explained to President Trump that an increase in the nuclear arsenal would set off a dangerous arms race around the world, ultimately encouraging him to back down from his position.
After the meeting, Tillerson reportedly told others that the president was a “f**king moron,” a comment that has since been denied by the State Department.
President Trump immediately denounced the story as fictional.
“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!” he wrote.
In comments to reporters on Wednesday, President Trump said he was satisfied with the number of nuclear weapons currently stockpiled. “We won’t need an increase,” he said. “But I want modernization and I want total rehabilitation. It’s got to be in tiptop shape.”
Defense Secretary James Mattis also denounced the NBC story. “Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal are absolutely false,” he said. “This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible.”
As for Trump’s assertion that NBC’s broadcasting license should be challenged, it’s largely an empty threat. The major networks don’t operate under any such license, though their local affiliates do. The FCC is independent from the White House and would be exceedingly unlikely to yank a broadcaster’s license, even in the instance of shoddy reporting. We doubt that Trump himself would actually want to bring the long hand of the government down on NBC or any other news network; he’s merely using forceful rhetoric to express his frustration with the outrageous biases of the mainstream press.
Still…there are probably better ways for him to get his point across. This only gives the left more “HE’S A DICTATOR” ammunition, and that’s the last thing his presidency needs right now.