Trump rails against NBC News again, minutes before his interview with FOX News airs

President Donald Trump took another swipe at NBC News on Wednesday evening, just minutes before his interview with Fox News' Sean Hannity was set to air.

Trump reiterated his earlier attacks on NBC, questioning whether the network's "license" should be challenged — ostensibly because he is personally incensed by news that he deems critical or unflattering. The president called network news "partisan" and "distorted" in his latest tweet on the subject, dubbing it "unfair" to the public.

The president had similar complaints in May, but on that occasion — in which he was addressing this year's graduating class of Coast Guard cadets — Trump said media coverage was unfair to him.

"Look at the way I've been treated lately, especially by the media. No politician in history — and I say this with great surety — has been treated worse or more unfairly," Trump said at the time.

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Trump and Tillerson interact on the world stage
U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson confer during a working lunch with African leaders during the U.N. General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) attend a working dinner with Latin American leaders in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks toward President Donald Trump during the 9/11 observance at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) looks toward him during a working dinner with Latin American leaders in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) at his side, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a luncheon with Kuwait's ruler Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 7, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
US President Donald Trump (R) speaks to the press with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) on August 11, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Trump said Friday that he was considering options involving the US military as a response to the escalating political crisis in Venezuela. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (R) listens to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (C) during a meeting with leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Donald Trump (C), US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (L) and Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayif bin Abdulaziz al-Saud take part in a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Trump (C) sits with US Secretary of State Rewx Tillerson (R), Vice President Mike Pence (2nd L) and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross (L) during a lunch meeting with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri at the White House in Washington, DC, April 27, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes off his glasses after delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. US President Donald Trump's administration has launched a review of the Iran nuclear deal, officials said April 18, branding it a 'failed approach' to the threat posed by the Tehran regime. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: (AFP OUT) US President Donald Trump greets Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin (C) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) on his way out after delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Trump's first address to Congress focused on national security, tax and regulatory reform, the economy, and healthcare. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images)
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The president later on Wednesday tweeted about his interview with Hannity, a close friend of the president and one of his most vociferous defenders. Fox News' opinion programming is also decidedly friendly to the president — Hannity, in numerous interviews with Trump as a candidate and president, has rarely broached controversial topics.

Some social-media users took note of the optics of those back-to-back anti-NBC, pro-Fox News tweets.

Trump's attacks against the media are anything but new, but his calling into question the news media's ability to write and report at all, and suggesting they be pulled off the air represented an escalation of the president's anti-press rhetoric.

Freedom of the press is codified in the US Constitution's First Amendment, along with freedom of speech, freedom to peaceably assemble, and freedom of religion.

"Mr. President: Words spoken by the President of the United States matter," said Sen. Ben Sasse, a Republican from Nebraska, in a statement late Wednesday night. "Are you tonight recanting the oath you took on January 20th to preserve, protect, and defend the First Amendment?"

Trump's rhetorical calls to "revoke" NBC News' right to report on-air is  largely an empty threat, as Business Insider's Josh Barro wrote earlier Wednesday. Networks are not required to have a license — those are only reserved for individual radio and television stations.

The president has been on a tear in recent weeks, amid what has been yet another rough patch for his administration. Private feuds have spilled out into the public and people close to the White House have expressed concern about Trump's increasingly volatile behavior. And patience among some voters may be starting to wear thin. A broad swath of Americans are growing tired of the constant turmoil, according to a Quinnipiac poll released on Wednesday.

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