Trump Just Proposed a Scary Way To Shut Down TV Networks That Report Anything He Doesn’t Want To Hear

President Donald Trump suggested he may try to challenge NBC’s FCC license as he continued to rage tweet about their report that his own Secretary of State calling him a “moron.”

Last week, NBC News reported that State Secretary Rex Tillerson called the president an “f-ing moron” after a meeting at the Pentagon with national security officials.

NBC dug a little deeper and learned that Tillerson made the comment after Trump stunned military officials by demanding a tenfold increase of the US nuclear arsenal.

According to the report, Trump made the comment after seeing a chart (he loves charts, and pictures) showing that the US nuclear stockpile peaked in the 1960s. Trump’s demand surprised Pentagon officials, given that such a move would violate numerous disarmament treaties and potentially set off a Cold War-style arms race.

Trump denied that he made the remark, despite numerous government sources all saying that he did, and proposed challenging NBC’s broadcasting license.

“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!” Trump tweeted Wednesday.

“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 added.

While Trump shows little understanding of how these licenses actually work, it’s possible he could attempt to get certain networks yanked off the air in certain markets.

The FCC issues broadcast licenses to local stations. NBC, which is owned by Comcast, holds licenses for multiple stations around the country, which are called affiliate stations.

In theory, local residents can file a challenge to a station’s license renewal, which every station has to get every eight years.

The problem with such a plan is that a challenge would have to prove that stations systematically violated FCC rules, which reports citing dozens of sources clearly don’t do, regardless of how the president feels about them.

Communications lawyer Andrew Schwartzman explained to Politico that it would be very difficult to for anyone to get a station’s license revoked, noting that the only time he could remember was a New York station that lost its license after its management was convicted of bribery in the 1970s.

“It’s an empty threat. The last thing that NBC is going to worry about is whether its broadcast licenses are in jeopardy,” Schwartzman said.

Of course, MSNBC, which spent the most time reporting the “moron” story, and CNN, Trump’s biggest media foe, air on cable and are not subject to FCC licenses so there is even less recourse for Trump to attempt to silence the media there.

And while Trump wants to convince his Twitter followers the stories are untrue, they have clearly gotten under the president’s skin.

“I think it’s fake news,” Trump told Forbes of the report, “but if he did that, I guess we’ll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win.”



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