Senate Dem hammers FCC Chair for response to Trump tweet

Senate Dem hammers FCC Chair for response to Trump tweet
© Greg Nash

Sen. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzGOP leader criticizes Republican senators for not showing up to work Senate takes shot at Trump, passes resolution affirming 'press is not the enemy of the people' Pentagon’s No. 2 official: Trump’s ‘Space Force’ could cost 'billions' MORE (D-Hawaii) blasted the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman's response to President Trump’s call for the agency to challenge NBC’s licenses.

“[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.

“What we needed is a full-throated defense of the independence of the FCC against political interference. When the president announced his intent to retaliate against a broadcaster based on content, the FCC should have rejected it,” the Hawaii senator said.

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Earlier in the morning, at an AT&T policy event, Pai responded to a question regarding Trump’s call to challenge and possibly revoke NBC’s FCC licenses by saying that he supported the First Amendment and that the FCC does not regulate “fake news.”

“I believe in the First Amendment. The FCC, under my leadership, will stand for the First Amendment,” Pai said.

“Under the law, the FCC does not have the authority, does not have the power, to revoke license of a broadcast station based on content of a program,” Pai, who was appointed by Trump to be FCC chairman, said.

Others on the left have joined Schatz’s criticism of Pai’s statement.

“Commissioner Pai's statement is a profile in cowardice,” Andrew Schwartzman, a lawyer and staff member of Georgetown Law Center’s Institute for Public Representation, said in an emailed statement. 

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

Schatz, along with other lawmakers, had previously criticized tweets from President Trump asking the FCC to take action on NBC after it reported that he had called for the nation’s nuclear stockpile to be increased tenfold.

“With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!” Trump tweeted.

“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!” he wrote in a separate tweet.