Washington Post media blogger Erik Wemple was published in the newspaper on Wednesday -- which is pretty uncommon -- on how Trump “forced” Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai to defend the First Amendment.
Brian Stelter & Co. freaked out on October 11 when the president tweeted “with all of the Fake News coming out of the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their license?” And: “Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked.”
This was the dictionary definition of an empty threat, if it was an actual threat instead of just Twitter bravado. The networks don’t have broadcast licenses; their affiliates do (and they own a few). The liberal freakout that followed defined the term “sound and fury signifying nothing.” The FCC “Enforcement Bureau” has been no threat to the content of television, whether it’s news content or broadcast orgy scenes and blatant profanity.
Wemple reported what Pai said Tuesday morning at George Mason University in Virginia:
“I will reiterate what I have said for many years at the FCC, up to and including last month … I believe in the First Amendment. The FCC [Federal Communications Commission] under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment. And under the law, the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content of a particular newscast.”
So do Pai's words somehow demonstrate he had to respond to passionate liberal outrage? Or do Pai's words underline that this entire controversy was the cliched nothingburger? It was good of Pai to answer the question....but he made the point that he hasn't changed his viewpoint one bit in many years. Which makes all the fevered CNN chatter about Trump as an "autocrat" who must be impeached sound like a hyperbolic overreaction.
Wemple suggested Pai was responding to fellow FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel – an Obama and Hillary Clinton donor – who pleased Brian Stelter on his show by announcing “History won’t be kind to silence!” He also noted that Pai has spoken out against the increasing intolerance of free speech on college campuses, with a "common thread" that "those with views perceived as unpopular or offensive should be silenced.”
Wemple concluded: "That 'common thread' weaves straight across the Oval Office."