"It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write," President Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday. "And people should look into it." Trump, speaking hours after he tweeted about challenging the licenses of "NBC and the networks" for producing "fake news," said he was calling for more honesty, not limits on the media, but he later doubled down on his threat to challenge licenses, Bloomberg reports. "Network news has become so partisan, distorted, and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked," he tweeted. "Not fair to public!"
The Federal Communications Commission doesn't directly license networks, meaning it would be impossible for Trump to carry out the threat, Politico notes. Still, analysts called the threat alarming—and reminiscent of the failed Watergate-era attempts of Richard Nixon's allies to challenge the licenses of TV stations owned by the Washington Post. "Obviously, when a public official, much less the president, threatens media outlets with any kind of legal proceedings, it is a cause for grave concern as a First Amendment matter," Georgetown University media law expert Andrew Schwartzman tells the Washington Post, adding that Trump "is ignorant over details like what the law actually requires or permits."