FCC Boss Pushes Back Against Trump's Call To Punish Broadcast Networks

President Donald Trump picked a fierce critic of the Obama-era “net neutrality” rules to be chief regulator of the US’ airwaves and internet connections

He said that it is "not within the FCC's jurisdiction to handle fake news".

Tom Wheeler, the Obama-era FCC chairman, called Pai's silence "shocking".

In the early 1970s, then-President Richard Nixon and his top aides discussed using the FCC's license renewal process as a way of punishing The Washington Post for its coverage of the Watergate burglary that ultimately brought down his presidency. "I think it's important for all the commissioners to make clear that they support the First Amendment, and that the agency will not revoke a broadcast license simply because the president is dissatisfied with the licensee's coverage". "The FCC, under my leadership, will stand for the First Amendment", said Pai, who was nominated to lead the agency by President Donald Trump, according to The Hill.

Immediately, a number of Democrats - including Pai's colleagues at the FCC, Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn - expressed their dissatisfaction with Trump's comments.

Trump's comments horrified many First Amendment advocates and former FCC commissioners.

Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). "but it is merely a reiteration of the FCC's authorities under the law".

Last Wednesday he tweeted: "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?" "What we needed is a full-throated defense of the independence of the FCC against political interference", he said.

Others on the left have joined Schatz's criticism of Pai's statement. "When the president announced his intent to retaliate against a broadcaster based on content, the FCC should have rejected it". Trump used a question mark instead of a period, and he said "Equal Time" instead of "Fairness Doctrine", invoking a different rule that applies to competing candidates for public office.

This isn't the first time Pai has had to respond to a Trump attack against journalists. Trump's assault on press freedom will continue until enough people-including those like Pai who are aligned with his administration-renounce the president in stronger and more direct terms.

Pai said Tuesday (Oct. 17) he was just reiterating what he has said before-though not publicly since the President's twitter storm last week-which was part of the problem.

"Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked".

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