President Trump, who has threatened press freedoms before, suggested Wednesday that NBC might lose its broadcast licenses following critical stories detailing his behavior.
Substantively, Trump's threat is fairly empty: NBC and other networks do not hold a license for the network as a whole. Licenses are issued to local stations, of which NBC owns 28. Under deregulatory measures that Republicans successfully pushed over the past generation, challenging a license on the grounds that coverage is unfair or biased would be extremely difficult.
Gordon Smith, president of the National Assn. of Broadcasters, denounced Trump's threat on Wednesday.