Senator Blumenthal Calls On FCC To Counter Trump's Threats To NBC

Trump on October 11 asked whether FCC licenses should be taken from NBC after the network published a story saying he'd called for a tenfold increase in the USA nuclear arsenal in a meeting with military and security officials.

Pai confronted the question at an event hosted by the Mercatus Center, after days of dodging reporters' questions about Trump's tweet.

I'm not sure why it took Ajit Pai nearly a week to say anything about President Trump's unsafe comments, but I'm glad he is willing to acknowledge that the First Amendment still applies at the FCC.

Following a presidential assault on the media by way of interviews and Twitter, Connecticut's senior senator is looking to call on federal communications officials to uphold the First Amendment. "The FCC, under my leadership, will stand for the first amendment", Pai said in his first comments on the matter without mentioning Trump by name.

"His tweets are meant to shift attention away from bigger issues on to minor issues that are just critical of him - for instance, the Las Vegas shooting, gun control, and Puerto Rico on the hurricane recovery - by talking about the FCC license issue which is a non-issue really because it could never happen", he said.

Ip also asked Pai if there is any role for the FCC to determine what is "fake news". Pai said "traditionally that has not been within the FCC jurisdiction".

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"[Ajit Pai's] statement is better than nothing, but it is merely a reiteration of the FCC's authorities under the law", Schatz said in a statement on Tuesday.

"...based on the content of a particular newscast", Pai said. "What we needed is a full-throated defense of the independence of the FCC against political interference", he said.

The FCC, an independent federal agency, does not license broadcast networks, but issues them to individual broadcast stations that are renewed on a staggered basis for eight-year periods. "However, as public trustees, broadcast licensees may not intentionally distort the news: the FCC has stated that 'rigging or slanting the news is a most heinous act against the public interest'".

The FCC doesn't license networks.

The first returns from Capitol Hill on FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's response to President Trump's tweeted attacks on the press were not promising. But Chairman Pai initially said nothing despite pressure from Democratic lawmakers and former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.

  • Adam Floyd