President Donald Trump on Wednesday questioned whether US news broadcasters should have their licenses revoked, after an unflattering story about his nuclear policy which he decried as "fake."
Trump made the implied threat after taking to Twitter to angrily deny reports that he had asked to dramatically increase in America's nuclear stockpile, calling it "made up."
US television network NBC reported that Trump last summer told generals and security aides "he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the US nuclear arsenal."
"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!" Trump said.
The US constitution is understood to guarantee press freedom, but television networks rely on access to broadcast frequencies granted by government agencies.
Citing three officials who were in the room, NBC said Trump's response came when he was shown a slide showing the steady reduction of nukes since the 1960s.
After the briefing, the secretary of state is alleged to have called Trump a "moron," although Rex Tillerson's spokeswoman has denied that allegation.
Similarly, Trump on Wednesday denied requesting more weapons.
That move would abrogate key international arms control treaties and upend decades of non-proliferation policy, with deep ramifications across the globe.
"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.
As president and as a candidate has often mused aloud about America's nuclear weapons power, saying there is no point in having them if you do not use them.