| WASHINGTON, March 20
WASHINGTON, March 20 The head of the Federal
Communications Commission told the U.S. Congress that he did not
agree with President Donald Trump's comments that certain media
outlets are an "enemy" of the people and would act independently
of the White House on media-related matters.
In a letter released on Monday, Republican chairman Ajit
Pai, tapped by Trump in January to head the body that regulates
broadcast television, radio and other media outlets, told Senate
Democrats in response to a series of questions that he did not
agree the media is the "enemy of the American people."
Pai, who has been nominated to a new five-year term at the
FCC by Trump, had refused to say during a Senate hearing earlier
this month whether he agreed with Trump media comments.
In February, Trump tweeted: "The FAKE NEWS media (failing
@nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is
the enemy of the American people. SICK."
On March 10, 13 Senate Democrats sent Pai a letter again
demanding he answer, arguing his "silence on the matter and
refusal to take a stand against threats levied at the media is
In the letter dated Friday, Pai said he had been asked
during the hearing if he agreed with Trump that the media was
the "enemy" of the people. Pai said Trump "has made clear that
he was referring to 'fake news.'"
Pai said he would regulate the media in an impartial manner
and would not penalize free speech by television or digital
media "even if requested by the administration."
He said he would act independently of the White House and
would report to Congress attempts by White House officials to
influence decision making with respect to media interests.
Trump has clashed with media outlets on numerous occasions,
especially cable networks like CNN. Trump has often taken to
Twitter to label stories he disagreed with as "fake news."
During his election campaign, Trump said AT&T Inc's
$85.4 billion bid to buy Time Warner Inc, owner of CNN
and the Warner Bros movie studio, was an example of a "power
structure" rigged against him and U.S. voters and should not be
approved. "It's too much concentration of power in the hands of
too few," he said during the campaign.
Since his election, Trump has not commented on the merits of
Pai said last month he does not expect the FCC to review the
In his letter, Pai reiterated his "strong support for the
First Amendment rights of the media and all Americans" and said
he has "consistently opposed any effort to infringe upon the
freedom of the press and have fought to eliminate regulations
that impede the gathering and dissemination of news."
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)