From the diaries.
Ajit Pai is just great.
Perhaps one of the best appointments to come out of Trump’s election, he’s stood in the fire against all manner of liberal insanity when it comes to net neutrality, censorship, and federal overreach at the FCC. That includes standing up to Trump when he made the ridiculous suggestion that certain broadcasters should have their licenses pulled.
Pai isn’t partisan, he’s principled.
Today, he reaffirmed those principles by rejecting an absolutely insane request from 12 Democrat Senators (including Patty Murray, Elizabeth Warren, and Cory Booker) that the FCC “investigate” Sinclair for “purposely distorting the news.”
Yes, the same Democrat party that craps a brick when Trump just says “fake news” now wants the Federal government to delve into the editorial decisions of news agencies. I’d call them hypocrites, but would I be telling you anything you didn’t already know?
Here’s the money quote from their request…
“We are concerned that Sinclair is engaged in a systematic news distortion operation that seeks to undermine freedom of the press and the robust localism and diversity of viewpoint that is the foundation of our national broadcasting laws,” the senators wrote. They added that it “may have violated the FCC’s longstanding policy against broadcast licensees deliberately distorting news by staging, slanting, or falsifying information.”
This is nuts for two reasons.
One, all Sinclair did was film promos saying they’ll be honest, diligent, and not report fake or unsubstanciated stories. Now, I’m no English major, but where in any of that did Sinclair “stage, slant, or falsify” information? Or are we saying because local news promos are staged, they are actually illegal?
Secondly, suggesting they should have their broadcast license pulled is exactly the kind of idoicy that Trump was rightly excoriated for by these very same Senators. The FCC does not have the power to, nor should they go around pulling broadcast licenses based on their determination of what is “slanted” or any other such qualifier on a free press.
Luckily, for freedom loving Americans at least, FCC Chair Ajit Pai responded in kind this afternoon and he didn’t hold back…
This is just a great response.
While he does keep it civil, he points out just how ludicrous and “chilling” this request by Democrats was. The idea that any aspect of the Federal government should delve into judging editorial choices of the free press is antithetical to everything this country stands for. Furthermore, to have elected representatives demanding the FCC go after local broadcasters for filming a promo spot (that doesn’t even say anything false) is outright dangerous.
By that standard, there is no standard. The government could shut anyone down for basically any ginned up reason.
Even worse, to do so would be blatantly unconstitutional. The 1st Amendment isn’t ambiguous. It’s not by-passable if you use a bureaucracy instead of legislation. It is not the FCC’s job nor any Congressional member’s job to police news coverage or punish providers over a partisan’s interpretation of what’s true or false.
After this episode, none of these Senators, nor the larger contingent of Democrats who have went after Sinclair, have any credibly to speak on freedom of the press anymore. What they’ve made clear is they don’t actually believe what they’ve sold in the past. It was never about freedom of the press for these people. It was just about freedom for outlets they see as helpful to their cause.