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FCC Chair Rips Dems’ Call for Investigation of Sinclair ‘Based on the Content of Its News Coverage’

By Craig Bannister | April 16, 2018 | 5:02pm EDT
FCC Chair Ajit Pai (Screenshot)

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai chided Democrats requesting an investigation of Sinclair Broadcasting by reminding them of the true meaning of the First Amendment.

In their April 11 letter, the Democrat senators, joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who caucuses with them, asked Pai to investigate pulling Sinclair’s broadcast license due to conservative views expressed on its stations, The Daily Signal reports:

“[A] group of senators wrote a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai, demanding that he investigate Sinclair and possibly pull its broadcasting license because it constitutes a threat to the freedom of the press protected by the First Amendment.”

Pai responded, calling out the Democrats for “requesting that the commission investigate a broadcaster based on the content of its news coverage” – and saying he wouldn’t be part of such an anti-First Amendment effort:

“Thank you for your letter requesting that the Commission investigate a broadcaster based on the content of its news coverage and promotion of that coverage. In light of my commitment to protecting the First Amendment and freedom of the press, I must respectfully decline.”

….

“I have repeatedly made clear that the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content of a particular newscast.”

Pai warned them that attacking a broadcaster based on their dislike of its content is a “chilling” threat to free speech in America:

“I understand that you disliked or disagreed with the content of particular broadcasts, but I can hardly think of an action more chilling of free speech than the federal government investigating a broadcast station because of disagreement with its news coverage or promotion of that coverage.”

The following senators signed the letter requesting an FCC investigation of Sinclair based upon its views:

  • Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
  • Tom Udall (D-NM)
  • Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
  • Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
  • Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)
  • Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)
  • Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
  • Tina Smith (D-Minn.)
  • Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.)
  • Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.)
  • Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.)
  • Cory A. Booker (D-NJ)

 

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