Trump's FCC Head Shuts Down Trump Idea For Punishing 'Fake News' NBC

Wednesday, 18 Oct, 2017

Last Wednesday, Trump tweeted, "With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License?"

Get tech news in your inbox weekday mornings. Local stations do obtain those licenses - but even if the FCC took the unlikely step to revoke them, it hardly would stop NBC's parent, Comcast, from producing content elsewhere. Pai said "traditionally that has not been within the FCC jurisdiction". "I tend to hew as closely as I can to the terms of the Communications Act and to other applicable legal principles, and so that's the standard that we adopt, at least going forward".

Trump has raised the possibility of reviving the Fairness Doctrine, which the FCC abandoned in 1987. "Should we get Equal Time?"

Moreover, "it was an administrative nightmare".

Previously, telecom experts said that the FCC is unlikely to help Trump punish networks but that Pai may have been reluctant to say so publicly because Trump could demote him from the chairmanship, a Politico article said.

FCC Democrats rebuked Trump within hours, saying that challenging licenses because the president dislikes news coverage would violate the First Amendment.

Democratic lawmakers and press freedom advocates had been urging Pai to speak out on this topic for days.

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Nikki Haley, the U.N. ambassador, has repeatedly criticized the United Nations for what she called its anti-Israel bias. The government stopped paying its dues in 2011 after UNESCO voted to include the Palestinian Authority as a member.

Free Press, which joined Schatz and other Democrats in calling for that full-throated, direct repudiation of the President, saw it as progress but also wanted more.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee agreed. "The chairman should therefore be prepared to commit-under oath, if necessary-that he will take no actions whatsoever to retaliate against news outlets in response to the President's pressure". Ajit Pai, a Republican who was named to the FCC by Trump himself in January, gave a statement on Tuesday regarding the commission's position on revoking broadcast licenses. And it likely won't be the last.

The comments are the most decisive yet from Pai in the wake of Trump's claims.

"Unlike his predecessors, who have forthrightly stood up to Presidential interference, he continues to equivocate", he said.

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.

Despite Trump's ostensible attempt to make a case that the license of the national news organization for NBC should be revoked, the FCC would have to deal with each locally operated station on a case-by-case basis.

O'Rielly was asked about Trump's tweets during an appearance at a conference on spectrum management on Friday. "I think he probably said what needs to be said, I think we know what his position on the First Amendment is, and he would have a different view than what was articulated by the president in his tweet".