The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected a request by the far-left media group “Free Press” to censor President Donald Trump’s press conferences on Monday. Last week, the liberal media group had filed a petition with the FCC to constrain public access to updates on the federal response to the ongoing public health pandemic by mandating television disclaimers to the president and media figures who possess opposing political views from Free Press.
“At best,” the FCC wrote in a letter announcing its decision, “the Petition rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Commission’s limited role in regulating broadcast journalism. And at worst, the Petition is a brazen attempt to pressure broadcasters to squelch their coverage of a President that Free Press dislikes and silence other commentators with whom Free Press disagrees.”
Good free speech win, though it won’t be the left’s last attempt to weaponize the FCC against conservative voices pic.twitter.com/LEX9SA6er9
— Brendan Carr (@BrendanCarrFCC) April 6, 2020
Given Free Press’ leadership and history, it is almost certainly the latter. The group had previously lobbied under the Obama administration to institute “net neutrality” rules later repealed by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The progressive group’s founder and board member Robert W. McChesney is a professed socialist who fantasizes about the destruction of the free market.
“In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles,” McChesney once said. “[w]e need to do whatever we can to limit capitalist propaganda, regulate it, minimize it, and perhaps even eliminate it.”
The recent failed attempt to censor what McChesney describes as “capitalist propaganda” is based on Trump’s recent reference to the anti-malarial drug hyroxychloroquine which doctors have been using to treat the novel Wuhan coronavirus during a press conference. Trump noted that even if it wasn’t effective, the risk was low in humans. “It’s been around for a long time, so we know if things don’t go as planned, it’s not going to kill anybody,” Trump said.
Free Press and anti-Trumpers seized on the president’s remarks to pin the death of an uninfected man who had ingested fish tank cleaner without any medical guidance at home on Trump. Despite the fact that Trump issued nowhere close to such a recommendation, Free Press charged the president with spreading “deadly misinformation” which therefore justified the proposed censorship in its petition to the FCC.
The Food and Drug Administration meanwhile, has recently approved the use of hydroxychloroquine for patients infected with the Wuhan virus, and the New York Times eported that the medicine has “helped to speed the recovery” of sick patients.
“Tellingly, the single concrete example provided by Free Press of alleged substantial public harm from broadcasters airing the President’s remarks highlights the weakness of its argument,” the FCC said, explaining the absurdity of the group’s claim. “It was not reasonably foreseeable that a broadcaster’s decision to air this statement would result in viewers or listeners ingesting cleaning products as a preventative measure to protect themselves from COVID-19.”