Without calling out President Trump by name, Federal Communications Commission Chair Ajit Pai shut down the idea Trump put forward last week that NBC and other broadcasters could be punished for “Fake News” by blocking the renewal of their station licenses, a process the FCC oversees.
“I believe in the First Amendment,” Pai, who was selected by Trump to lead the independent commission, said at a Washington event Tuesday, according to Politico.
“The FCC 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 content of a particular newscast,” he continued.
Pai was not the only commissioner to throw cold water on Trump’s threat, which Trump tweeted after NBC published a report on remarks the President made at a private Pentagon meeting.
Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic appointee to the commission, tweeted her own response to Trump’s tweet last week.
— Jessica Rosenworcel (@JRosenworcel) October 11, 2017
Beyond the First Amendment considerations, there would be practical issues facing the FCC if it tried to carry out Trump’s threats. Networks like NBC aren’t issued a blanket license through the FCC. Rather, the individual stations it owns and operates renew their licenses on a cyclical basis (on top of the dozens of NBC affiliates the corporation does not own).