Trump Threatens NBC’s Broadcasting License Over Fake News

This morning, Donald Trump lashed back at NBC for reporting on what he says is a made-up story.

President Trump is well known for calling out fake news. An NBC story claims Trump called for the U.S. nuclear arsenal to be increased tenfold, but Trump says the story is “pure fiction.”

From CNS News:

Anchors Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough referenced an exclusive NBC report that says Trump, at a Pentagon meeting in July, “said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal.”

Trump reportedly called for the increase after he was shown a slide depicting the steady reduction in U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s.

NBC, citing “three officials who were in the room,” said Trump’s advisers, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, “were surprised” by the president’s request and by his failure to understand “the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup.”

In response, Trump tweeted a threat to NBC’s licsense, calling them “Fake News” and bad for the country.

Cable stations are not licensed by the FCC. But NBC’s parent company Comcast does own broadcast television stations. Trump’s threat could be aimed broadly at Comcast Corporation.

Some outlets seemed to think Trump merely got it wrong in his tweet.

CNS News reports:

Broadcast television networks are licensed by the Federal Communications Commission, but cable stations are not.

Over-the-air stations are required by the FCC to operate in the public interest, and license renewals can be challenged by anyone who wants to make a case against station operations.

Trump is a frequent critic of the media in general, branding many negative reports about him as “fake news.”

Just knowing that White House has taken notice and Trump is lashing back might be enough to scare Comcast into thinking twice about the truth in NBC’s reporting.

Comcast has already seen a dip in shares, as NBC San Diego admits:

Still, the tweet could raise fears of higher government scrutiny on NBC’s parent company Comcast.

Comcast shares dipped slightly after Trump tweeted, “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!”

Comcast did not immediately return a call for comment. The White House did not immediately return a call for clarification on the tweet.

Trump’s point is that fake news is bad for the country.

If NBC isn’t fact-checking its stories, they might not have to worry about losing their license, but just knowing the White House is against them might encourage Comcast to make some changes.

The President of the United States certainly holds some power in shareholder’s decisions to invest in NBC’s parent company, and he’s already having an effect.

Of course, there’s also a free speech issue here. Slander and libel are not protected by the First Amendment, which Trump has rightfully pointed out in the past, but many are understandably alarmed at the prospect of the President of the United States suggesting that the federal government impose legal penalties for content. Others, meanwhile, point out that Trump impulsively tweeting about something doesn’t mean an actual policy is in the works.

Let us know what you think, and sound off in the comments below.