Donald Trump renews attack on news networks that make him look bad – but appears to admit he cannot revoke licences

Donald Trump has launched a fresh tirade against TV news networks that report stories which reflect badly on him – while tacitly admitting he does not have the power to revoke their licences.

The President began his early-morning Twitter storm by retweeting disgraced former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who had said: “A free press is vital to protecting all Americans. A corrupt press damages the Republic.”

Mr O’Reilly, who left Fox after a string of sexual misconduct accusations, added: “The President will not be able to impact licenses, but he is doing major damage to the @nbc brand.”

In retweeting that message, Mr Trump added his own comment, saying: “Sadly, they and others are Fake News, and the public is just beginning to figure it out!”

He has used the term “fake news” to criticise news organisations that publish stories he disagrees with.

The retweet suggested Mr Trump acknowledged his apparent threat, issued earlier this week, to review the licences of “fake news” TV news companies, was likely not one he could follow through.

Mr Trump told reporters in the Oval Office this week 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”.

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 tweeted: “Not fair to public!”

It arose after an NBC report claimed the President was seeking to expand the US’ nuclear arsenal tenfold, which he denied.

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