Donald Trump intensifies war with media, saying it is 'frankly disgusting the press is able to write whatever it wants'

Jon Sharman

Donald Trump has intensified his war with the media by launching an attack on the “frankly disgusting” freedom of speech bestowed upon US journalists.

The embattled President told reporters in the Oval Office it was “frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write and people should look into it”, criticising the “tremendously dishonest press”.

Mr Trump, who has made some 1,300 false statements since taking office, has long complained of “fake news” hampering his administration.

Free expression is guaranteed by the First Amendment to the US Constitution.

Mr Trump on Wednesday threatened to consider whether TV networks’ licences could be reviewed over unflattering coverage of him.

He later added: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked”.

Singling out NBC News for criticism, he added: “Not fair to public!”

A Republican senator, Ben Sasse, challenged Mr Trump’s outburst. He said: “Words spoken by the President of the United States matter. Are you tonight recanting the oath you took on 20 January to preserve, protect and defend the First Amendment?”

And Ed Markey, a Democrat, urged the chairman of the Federal Communication Commission to ignore the President’s apparent call to action.

Maggie Hassan, another Democrat, called it “an unacceptable attack on the free press”.

According to The Hill, Mr Trump later said he had no plans to seek to limit journalistic activity.

The latest tension between the media and the Trump administration arose from an NBC News report that claimed the President was seeking to expand the US’ nuclear arsenal tenfold, which he denied.

He told reporters, during a visit by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau: “I never discussed increasing it. We don’t need an increase, but I want modernisation and I want total rehabilitation.”

Earlier this year, at the Conservative Political Action Conference, Mr Trump used his speech to reiterate his belief that “fake news” media outlets using anonymous source were the “enemy of the American people”.

“They are the enemy of the people,” he said in February. “Because they have no sources. They just make them up where there are none.”