US President Donald Trump has called an NBC report that he wanted a tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal “pure fiction” and suggested that the network deserves to have its license pulled after a series of reports that were challenged as false.
The president said that NBC News “made up” the report which, citing three unnamed officials, said that Trump wanted to dramatically increase the stockpile of US nuclear weapons.
“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 on Twitter.
“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?” he added.
“It’s frankly disgusting, the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write,” Trump said Wednesday afternoon, after meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Washington.
“The press should speak more honestly,” he added. “They make up the sources. There are no sources.”
Last week NBC reported that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson supposedly called Trump a “moron” and threatened to resign, only to be talked out of it by Vice President Mike Pence. That story also cited three unnamed officials.
Tillerson told reporters he had “never considered leaving” his post and described the story as “petty nonsense.” The vice president likewise denied the claims in the NBC story.
“At no time did he and the secretary ever discuss the prospect of the secretary’s resignation from the administration. Any reporting to the contrary is categorically false,” said Jarrod Agen, Pence’s spokesman.
Trump has long complained about major US media outlets trying to undermine him during and after the election. He labeled a number of them, including the Washington Post, the New York Times and CNN, “fake news.”
“Why Isn’t the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!” Trump tweeted last Thursday, the day after the Senate Intelligence Committee updated reporters about its months-long investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the US election.
Some news outlets will be left “with egg on their face” over their reporting on the Russia investigation, committee chairman Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) told CNN when asked about Trump’s statement.