Incensed by a story detailing how he wanted to drastically increase the country's nuclear arsenal, President Trump seemed to challenge the freedom of the press, saying it was "disgusting" that the media could "write whatever they want to write."
"People should look into it," he told reporters Wednesday.
Still, he claimed that he was not calling for restrictions on the press. He merely wants the press to "speak more honestly."
"I've seen tremendously dishonest press," he said.
His comments came hours after he charged that NBC and other news networks should have their licenses challenged.
"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!" the president tweeted that morning.
The president — who has fought with the press over coverage since before he took office — appeared to be threatening to revoke news organizations' licenses received through the Federal Communications Commission, over news coverage he deemed fake.
What sparked the outburst: An NBC story reporting how the president had asked to increase the U.S. nuclear arsenal by nearly tenfold. The report was based on the statements of three officials who were in the room when the president made the request in July. There are no plans to expand the arsenal, NBC News reported.
Defense Secretary James Mattis also issued a statement on Wednesday, saying the report was "absolutely false."
"This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible," he said.
The administration's denial of the report and criticism of the media received pushback from both former Obama administration officials and journalism organizations alike.
David Axelrod, who served as an adviser to former president Barack Obama, noted that even when the Obama White House faced coverage it didn't like, it didn't threaten the organizations.
"There were times in WH (the White House) when we disliked coverage," he said. "Never did we suggest denying broadcaster licenses. Come on, POTUS. Is this Russia or USA?"
The National Association of Broadcasters criticized to the president's threat, saying that the First Amendment was a "cornerstone of our democracy."
"It is contrary to this fundamental right for any government official to threaten the revocation of an FCC license simply because of a disagreement with the reporting of a journalist," NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith said in a statement.
But despite the administration's disputes of the report, Trump's desire to increase the country's nuclear power isn't new. Before he took office, the president made it known via tweet that he would like to see an expansion.
Back in December, he said the country "must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability."