Sen. Udall Will Seek Press Protection Commitment From Pai

Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) has signaled he will use some of his time questioning FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at an Aug. 16 FCC oversight hearing to make sure he has journalists' backs.

That is the same day journalist organizations are getting together to push back on President Donald Trump's attacks on mainstream media as fake news outlets in league with his Democrat opponents to undermine his presidency and policies.

According to an email from Udall's office to B&C, the senator, a member of the Commerce Committee, will call on Pai "to defend the free press in light of repeated attacks from President Trump and members of his administration."

On Wednesday, the President revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John Brennan and threatened those of other former top national security officials, citing for one thing Brennan's criticisms of the Administration leveled online and on TV.

Related: Trump Suggests NBC License Should Be Pulled Over Critical Story

Pai in 2017 told concerned Senate Democrats that he did not believe the media was the enemy of the people, as Trump has branded them, and promised to exercise his media regulatory authority impartialy.

Pai also said at the time that he would not act in a manner that stifles or penalizes free speech "even if requested by the Administration." He also said he did not commit to any member of that Administration to do so in exchange for getting the FCC post and committed to respect the "absolute independence" of his agency from the White House.

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.