By Mike Cavender, RTDNA Executive Director
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Thursday sidestepped questions from reporters about the Commission’s position on so-called “fake news.” Calling it a “political debate,” Pai said, “I will not wade into that. I will be focused on the core values of the First Amendment and protecting them.
As far as First Amendment protection goes, RTDNA applauds the Chairman for publicly reaffirming its importance.
Reporters pressed him on the fake news issue, but Pai clearly did not want to expound on his position. “Again, this is a political debate with political actors across the spectrum and I’m clear on the distinction that the media serves an important function in the First Amendment and it’s a value I believe (in.)
Regulatory reality is that the FCC has very little control over editorial content on broadcast stations. It is prohibited by law from censorship and can only consider taking up a complaint about such things as “fake news” if demonstrated evidence is provided by an individual or group.
But several times he repeated his pledge to uphold the tenets of the First Amendment. “I’ve been pretty clear about the value I place on First Amendment freedoms and as long as I’m serving at the FCC and duty-bound to implement the Constitution and laws of the United States, that’s how I will conduct my job,” he said.
However, we wish Pai would have gone just a bit further in his remarks and reaffirmed that major news organizations like the New York Times and others are not purveyors of “fake news,” regardless of who’s leveling the charge.