FCC commissioner Brendan Carr told KDKA(AM) Pittsburgh conservative radio show host Wendy Bell Wednesday evening (April 15) that groups like Free Press--he did not name them but made it clear who he was talking about--"are engaged in a sweeping and dangerous attempt to weaponize the FCC against political actors" it doesn't like.
On April 6, the FCC--in this case comprising the chairman, the general counsel and the Media Bureau chief--flatly, and strongly, rejected a petition by Free Press seeking a government investigation into broadcasters who aired statements by the President during coronavirus briefings and "related commentary." Pai and company argued that the investigation would itself curtail a free press.
Carr pointed out that the group (Free Press) had cited Bell, among others, in the complaint. She said she had drawn fire after her name became public and appreciated Carr for "flagging her" about the complaint.
Carr pointed out that "this group" (he again did not call out Free Press by name) had also tried to secure network neutrality rules and succeeded under a Democratic-controlled FCC before the Republican-controlled Ajit Pai FCC, supported by Carr, unwound those rules.
So, said Carr, Free Press was signaling their next move. He said that "when they get the votes here at the FCC, they are going to bring petitions back, just like this one, trying to shut down conservative voices."
Carr is not permitted to advocate for the President's reelection, but he said that if Democrats get the majority groups like Free Press would try to shut down conservative voices.
He said "the group" wanted the FCC to be "the ministry of truth as the left sees it" and called the petition the tip of the iceberg and a warning shot. He called it a dangerous signal and said people have to "speak up."
Bell called that "beyond chilling."
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.