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FCC's Pai Again Declines to Comment on ‘Fake News’

FCC chairman Ajit Pai continued this week to stick with historic comments about the value of free media but not weigh in on the recent comments of Donald Trump that the media are the enemy of the people.

Pai had said last week in a letter to congressional Democrats concerned about the President's view that Trump had been referring to "fake news." 

But a reporter following the FCC's public meeting March 23 pointed out that just this week the President had included ABC and NBC, whose broadcast content the FCC regulates, in the fake news category, as he earlier had the New York Times and others. 

Pai said the media had an important job exercising a "core First Amendment function" but said what is or isn't fake news is a political debate among "political actors" that he again refused to "wade into." 

But reporters at the post-meeting press conference were not done. Pai was asked why it was not relevant for him to comment on allegations against news outlets whose parent companies he regulated, using the public airwaves that he also regulates, given the suggestion those regulated outlets were misleading Americans.

"Look, again, that is a political debate and many people in the political arena have debated back and forth and my job is not to be a political actor but to be someone who is administering the laws of the United States and so, I am not going to wade into that kind of political debate but be focused on the values of the First Amendment."

He was asked whether if someone brought some kind of complaint that false information was being disseminated he would pursue it. He said he had not seen any such complaint and would not speculate on what he might do.