Pai’s statement was a response to a series of questions from Senate Democrats after he testified earlier this month before the Commerce Committee.
Among other things, they asked him whether he believed that the media was the “enemy” of the American people, a reference to one of Trump’s tweets railing against the New York Times, CNN, ABC, CBS, and NBC News. In February, Trump named those outlets in characterizing “fake news” outlets as the “enemy of the American people.”
Pai answered no.
He also wrote, “I should note that at the hearing, I was asked if I agreed with the President that the media was the ‘enemy’ of the people. However, the President has made clear he was referring to ‘fake news.’ As I stated at the hearing, these comments are part of a larger political debate which I will not be wading.”
He also gave “Yes” answers to a series of questions on whether he would commit to the independence of the agency. That included informing them and the public of any White House attempt to influence decision making, or to try to direct the FCC to take any action on media interests.
In his letter, Pai wrote that during his tenure on the FCC, “I have consistently opposed any effort to infringe upon freedom of the press and have fought to eliminate regulations that impede the gathering and dissemination of news.”
He cited previous comments he has made on the newspaper industry’s “profound financial troubles.” In 2016, before he was chairman, he dissented to the majority’s decision that the FCC’s media ownership rules should remain largely unchanged. That included a restriction on the common ownership of a newspaper and TV station in the same market.