Free Press' Wilson Apologizes For Pai Tweet

According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, Free Press has apologized for a tweet that Pai's office had branded earlier in  the day as a 'racist attack.'

Pai sent out a statement along with a screen capture of the tweet by Free Press' Lauren Wilson: "Commissioner Pai has a newfound concern for POC [people of color]. Dear Commissioner: YOU CAN'T SIT WITH US." That was a reference to Pai's defense Thursday of JSA's as providing more opportunities for minorities and women.

Pai chief of staff Matthew Berry sent out a statement that pulled no punches.

“Our office is disappointed that someone at Free Press has chosen to launch a racist attack against Commissioner Pai.  It is offensive to suggest that he--the first Indian-American to serve in this position, and whose parents came to the United States with little other than their names--does not care about people of color or any group of Americans.  It is also offensive to suggest that he should not be allowed to “sit with” other people of color because of his views on media regulation. Commissioner Pai is proud of his Indian heritage and will not apologize for standing up for what he believes is right.  He strongly believes in diversity of all types, including diversity of thought.  We would hope everyone felt that way.”

Wilson soon followed up with a serial tweet to apologize and revise and extend her original remark. "@AjitPai forgive me. I wasn't questioning your dedication to your heritage. I do think the evidence is clear that SSA's [shared service agreements] have encouraged...the decline in minority ownership. And that 1 or 2 POC stand to profit from these illegal arrangements at the expense of...communities of color does not make it right."

Pai had said that, from his own research, 75% of African American-owned full power TV stations were parties to JSA's. Berry confirmed that the raw figures were based on 3 of four stations.

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.