Democratic FCC Vets Push Pai for Trump Condemnation

Say tweets must be repudiated by regulator

Pressure was growing Friday from advocacy groups, former Democratic FCC members, and others for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to forcefully condemn President Donald Trump's threats to challenge broadcast licenses.

It was not clear from the President's tweets whether he understood that news outlets and networks aren't licensed and can't be challenged, but since TV station licenses can be, that was the takeaway by many.

In a letter to Pai from, among others, Free Press, former RTDNA head Barbara Cochran and former FCC chairs Michael Copps and Tom Wheeler and commissioner Gloria Tristani, they said the President's tweets continued his pattern of undercutting the press and were the threats of a dictator, not a democratic leader.

They told Pai the comments must be "condemned in the strongest possible terms."

Pai has said before that he would not compromise the First Amendment rights of speakers, even under pressure from the Administration, but he has declined comment on the President's tweet tirade that invoked licenses and the need to revoke them if necessary.

Pai signaled to the Senate earlier this year that his reticence had to do with not wanting to get involved in the politics of the issue, but later at a House hearing did assure legislators of his respect for free speech and commitment to protect it.

Among the other almost two dozen signatories to the letter were representatives of the National Press Club, NABET-CWA, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Common Cause, the NewsGuild (CWA), and the National Press Photographers Association.