The FCC commissioner has pushed back on President Donald Trump's suggestion that the agency revoke NBC's broadcast license in retaliation against unflattering news coverage of his administration. Several Democratic lawmakers and journalism groups have blasted the president's comments, asserting that he was infringing upon freedom of the press.
On Oct. 11, Trump took to social media to deny a news report that said he had wanted to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Trump told Pentagon officials that he wanted a tenfold increase in nuclear weapons during a July 20 meeting at the Pentagon, NBC News reports. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson allegedly told officials after the meeting he believed Trump was a "moron."
"Pure fiction, made up to demean," Trump tweeted out in response to the story.
"With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?" the president added in a subsequent tweet. "Bad for country!"
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel swiftly fired back against the president's suggestion.
"Not how it works," Rosenworcel tweeted out, adding a link to the FCC broadcast licensing guidelines.
NBC, which is owned by Comcast Corp., does not broadcast through a FCC license, but through roughly 200 local stations that each have their own license. The FCC reviews local licenses every eight years, and it is up to residents in those areas to file a complaint to the agency.
Attorney Andrew Jay Schwartzman of Georgetown University Law Center noted it was extremely rare for the FCC to revoke any broadcast license due to political complaints.
"Whatever other legal problems [NBC parent] Comcast may have, this is not one of them," Schwartzman told CNN. "Comcast knows full well that the FCC will never, ever, deny its license renewal applications."
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had not commented on Trump's latest social media remarks, but has previously stated that his job is to solely administer "the laws of the United States."
The National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith blasted Trump's suggestion that NBC should have its broadcast license pulled, asserting that doing so would be an infringement on the First Amendment.
"It is contrary to this fundamental right for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license simply because of a disagreement with the reporting of a journalist," Smith said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.
Several Democratic lawmakers took to social media to criticize Trump's remarks. Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico tweeted out that the president's suggestion was "an abuse of power."
"At what point are we going to silence media critical of the President?" tweeted out Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, according to CNN. "When we cease to have a First Amendment and a democratic government."