House Dems want hearing on Trump media license threats

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A pair of top House Democrats are calling for Congress to hold public hearings on President Trump’s threats to revoke the broadcast licenses of media outlets he doesn’t like.

Reps. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) and Mike Doyle (D-Pa.) said on Thursday that they want all five members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to testify before Congress to disavow the president’s comments “publicly and under oath.”

“Over the past few days the President has repeatedly attacked news outlets and their FCC licenses,” the two said in a joint statement. “This threat alone may already be chilling free-speech across the country. That is why we and others have called on the FCC Chairman to immediately condemn this intimidation and promise to the American public that he will not follow through on the directions he has received from the President.”

On Thursday afternoon, a Republican committee aide told The Hill that the five commissioners had all been invited to testify in an oversight hearing on Oct. 25. While the invites went out the same day that the Democrats called for the hearing, the aide said that the committee had been working with the commissioners for weeks to set up a date for the regular oversight hearing.

The hearing request comes after Trump suggested this week that NBC should have its broadcast license challenged over the outlet’s report that the president wanted to build up the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

“Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked,” Trump said in another tweet on Wednesday night.

Still, Trump’s threat has sparked calls from Democrats for Ajit Pai, the Republican FCC chairman, to publicly condemn the proposal for its free speech implications.

Pai’s spokeswoman has not responded to requests for comment.

“Despite our calls, the Chairman has refused to say if he agrees with the President,” said Pallone and Doyle, two of the top Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“We therefore ask for a hearing as soon as possible with all five FCC Commissioners so that they can publicly and under oath commit that they will not threaten broadcasters or their licenses because of the content of their reporting,” they continued in the statement. “Every day that goes by without comment from the FCC Chairman is a continued threat to the First Amendment.”


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