O'Rielly: I Had No Contact With White House Before, Since Nomination Withdrawal

(Image credit: Future Media)

Commissioner Michael O'Rielly used his written testimony for Thursday's oversight hearing in the House Communications Subcommittee as something of a farewell address to the telecommunications nation.

President Trump withdrew O'Rielly's nomination after he had already had a confirmation hearing and appeared headed for a new, five-year term--and after a speech in which O'Rielly criticized an effort to regulate social media that the President supports. The President this week offered up a new nominee.

The subcommittee was a fitting venue for the valedictory since O'Rielly is a former staffer who worked on the 1996 Telecom Act, though the title of the hearing, "Trump FCC: Four Years of Lost Opportunities," suggested the Democratic leadership didn't see much to celebrate.

Saying it was probably the last time he would appear before the Congress as an FCC commissioner, O'Rielly outlined his record then spoke briefly about the withdrawal of his nomination, which appeared to come as a surprise and which he suggested was not a retaliation for any specific action, at least as far as he knew.

Related: Sen. Puts Hold on O'Rielly Nomination

"[T]here seems to be a great deal of interest in what led to my nomination for a new term being withdrawn by President Trump," he told the committee according to a copy of his prepared testimony. "In all honesty, there is no salacious story to report. No demands were made to support any position, and no pressure was applied to take any particular action."

"I was informed that the president was withdrawing my nomination, as is his prerogative, by a very short phone call," he said. "I had no conversations with the White House on withdrawing the nomination prior to that point and none since."

But most of the relatively brief statement focused on what he had done while on the commission. 

"I am incredibly proud of the amount and quality of work product I have accomplished for the American people during my tenure," he said. "It has been a tremendous honor to hold this position, and I have approached the role as though you were in my seat, guided by fidelity to the law and the will of lawmakers; respect for the millions of Americans you represent here in Washington; regard for those appearing before the Commission and the arguments they raise; and a determination never to take a single day, meeting, site visit, or conversation for granted. To paraphrase former President Ronald Reagan in his farewell address to the nation, my team and I weren’t just marking time. We made a difference."

O'Rielly said that included working to expand broadband availability, modernizing regulations, and increasing transparency.

John Eggerton

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.