After being shown an image charting the steadily falling size of the USA nuclear arsenal since the height of the Cold War during a meeting with top national security officials in July, President Donald Trump reportedly expressed support for a tenfold expansion of America's stockpile of nukes-a move critics said would spark a "global arms race" and dramatically increase the threat of a nuclear catastrophe.
The article, which relied entirely on anonymous officials, was published just a week after the network published another disputed article claiming that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had considered resigning.
"This kind of erroneous reporting is irresponsible", Mattis said, according to Reuters. Pure fiction, made up to demean.
"They don't exist", he said. "Believe me. Because I know what we have right now", Trump said.
"No. The press should speak more honestly, I mean, I've seen tremendously dishonest press".More news: UK Leader Challenge: 'Explain or Change' Race Disparity
After Trump's remarks to the press, CNN senior media correspondent Brian Stelter reacted by saying that the president is indeed calling the media "disgusting" and the "idea of a free press disgusting".
The president has always been a critic of the media's coverage of him, often referring to stories about him as "fake news".
"Even if Trump is right and the story is completely invented, there is no basis under the First Amendment to ensure NBC loses its broadcast license, which would mean that it would have to stop broadcasting". "We actually have a very good relationship".
In his tweet earlier in the day Trump raised the possibility of the broadcast licenses of NBC and other networks being challenged. Markey also called the president's challenge of a broadcaster's license "inappropriate".
Trump has been a consistent critic of the media since the beginning his presidential campaign in 2015, but Wednesday's tweet marks the first time the president has threatened licenses granted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The Federal Communications Commission issues broadcasting licenses in the USA largely to ensure stations don't trip over each other when transmitting. The agency grants licenses to broadcast television stations, 28 of which are owned by NBC's parent company NBC Universal.