President Donald Trump took a gentle swipe at FCC chair Ajit Pai Wednesday (Nov. 15) during a White House ceremony celebrating Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.
The President said he was "grateful to have numerous Americans of Indian and Southeast Asian heritage in critical roles in my Administration" and added that they had done an "incredible job."
He pointed out that one in attendance, the first he singled out, was Pai, the son of Indian immigrants. The President asked where Pai was and as he turned to shake his hand took a little off that "incredible."
"I just didn't like one decision he made, but that's alright," he joked, then took a little bit off that "alright," adding: "not even a little bit, but he's independent."
The President did not elaborate, but President Trump is on the record as criticizing the chairman for designating the Sinclair-Tribune deal for hearing, effectively killing it.
The President tweeted July 24 a few days after the hearing designation order, which was approved unanimously by the commission:
Given that the President's tweet had suggested there was a need for a conservative voice like Sinclair's, Pai was asked at a House oversight hearing whether ideology went into whether the FCC approved or denied a deal.
Pai echoed his answer to how he would view mergers supplied at his 2011 nomination hearing before the Senate, saying he would look at the facts, apply the law, and decide based on what was in the public interest.
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