US President Donald Trump tore into the press and questioned whether broadcasters should have their licenses revoked Wednesday, after an unflattering story about his nuclear policy.
"It's frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write, and people should want to look into it," Trump fumed as he met his Canadian counterpart in the Oval Office.
But the president - who has a history of being combative with the media - said he did not want to see formal restrictions.
"No. The press should speak more honestly, I mean, I've seen tremendously dishonest press. It's not even a question of distortion."
Trump was angered after NBC News reported he had asked to dramatically increase in America's nuclear stockpile, calling it "made up."
"Fake [NBC News] made up a story that I wanted a 'tenfold' increase in our US nuclear arsenal. Pure fiction, made up to demean. NBC = CNN!" Trump tweeted.
"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!"
This Wednesday, May 10, 2017, file photo, shows the NBC logo at their television studios at Rockefeller Center in New York. On Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017.
"Recent reports that the president called for an increase in the US nuclear arsenal are absolutely false," Pentagon chief Jim Mattis said in a statement.
US president Donald Trump has inferred in an interview he is smarter than his secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, suggesting the two should "compare IQ tests." Mr Trump's comments are in response to accusations Mr Tillerson had called him a "moron," a claim Mr Tillerson has not denied.
The US television network reported that Trump told generals and security aides over the summer that he wanted a "nearly tenfold increase" in the US nuclear arsenal.
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.
Trump denied requesting more weapons. "I never discussed increasing it. I want it in perfect shape. That was fake news," he said.
Such a move would abrogate key international arms control treaties and upend decades of non-proliferation policy, with deep ramifications across the globe.
"Right now, we have so many nuclear weapons I want them in perfect condition, perfect shape. That's the only thing I have discussed," Trump said.
As president and candidate, Trump has often mused aloud about America's nuclear weapons power, saying there is no point in having them if you do not use them.
US President Donald J. Trump (R) shakes hands with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a meeting in the Oval Office.
Trump's threat to challenge the broadcast licences that NBC holds with the FCC for its owned-and-operated stations recalls President Richard Nixon's similar threats against the Washington Post's parent company at the height of the Watergate scandal in the 1970s.
However, Nixon's threats were made in private, not for public consumption on social media.
In reality, a challenge to NBC's broadcast licences would be a lengthy process involving petitions at the FCC. But Trump's statement predictably raised hackles in media circles as it raised the spectre of government censorship of a news organisation.