FCC chairman dodges question on if press is 'enemy' of Americans

FCC chairman dodges question on if press is 'enemy' of Americans
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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday dodged questions about whether he agrees with President Trump’s views of the media.

During an oversight hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. Tom UdallThomas (Tom) Stewart UdallHillicon Valley: House panel takes on election security | DOJ watchdog eyes employee texts | Senate Dems urge regulators to block T-Mobile, Sprint deal | 'Romance scams' cost victims 3M in 2018 Dems urge regulators to reject T-Mobile, Sprint merger Dems wary of killing off filibuster MORE (D-N.M.) asked Pai if he shares Trump’s belief that the press is an “enemy of the American people.”

Pai responded by saying that he didn’t want to “wade into the larger political debates,” but that he believes “every American enjoys the First Amendment protections guaranteed by the Constitution.”

Later in the hearing, Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) pressed Pai on whether he agreed with Trump, noting that the FCC chairman has described himself as a champion of a free press.

“Senator Udall asked you a question a little while ago, asking whether you agreed or not with the statement that the media is the enemy of the American people, and it seemed to me that you kind of declined to answer that,” Hassan said. 

“I’d just like to give you another chance, because it seems to me that if you’re an outspoken defender of the free press, that should be a pretty easy question for you.”

Pai again declined to say whether he agreed with Trump’s statement but reiterated his support for the First Amendment.

Trump has repeatedly gone after the press as "fake news" and called the media "the enemy of the American people."

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Pai met with Trump at the White House on Monday, and the next day was renominated by the president to another five-year term on the FCC.

Pressed by Udall about what the two Republicans discussed in the meeting, Pai declined to divulge details but insisted that the FCC would act independently of the White House.

- Updated at 12:31 p.m.