By Chris White –
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai dismissed a petition for the agency to investigate news networks that air President Donald Trump’s press briefings on coronavirus.
The independent government agency slapped down a request from advocacy group Free Press because press freedoms are too important, Pai said in a tweet Monday announcing the decision. The tweet included screenshot of a press statement addressing the petition.
“The federal government will not — and never should — investigate broadcasters for their editorial judgments,” Pai said in the statement. “We leave it to broadcasters to determine for themselves how to cover this national emergency, including live events involving our nation’s leaders.”
He added: “Under my leadership, the FCC has always stood firmly in defense of Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, including freedom of the press. And so long as I am Chairman of this agency, we always will.”
Pai’s tweet and press statement comes after Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan demanded Saturday that news networks stop live-broadcasting Trump’s near-daily coronavirus briefings.
“The media must stop live-broadcasting Trump’s dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings,” Sullivan tweeted along with her column explaining why.
Sullivan said that when Trump’s statements on the spread of coronavirus are aired without any delay or fact-checking, then it makes it difficult if not impossible for reporters “to counter the serious damage” already done.
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