The Washington Post reported an imaginary meeting between Federal Communications (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai and President Donald Trump, alleging unethical coordination between the White House and the FCC.
The Washington Post reported on President Donald Trump’s meeting with tech industry CEOs this week that included Google, Microsoft, and Apple. The paper argued that Pai attended a tech meeting with the president, which, according to the Washington Post, raises questions over whether the FCC remains truly independent of the White House. The FCC is an independent agency, similar to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which regulates an industry based on its sole discretion.
John Simpson, an advocate at Consumer Watchdog, said, “It is a White House function in which he should not have taken part. They should be going the extra mile to be independent from the White House. It is incumbent upon the chairman and the commissioners not only to act independently, but to avoid any appearance of conflict.”
Matt Wood, policy director of Free Press, attacked the White House for its apparent misconduct. He said:
A lot of [Internet Service Providers], their paid pundits, Republican operatives, and sitting members of Congress spent a ton of time and taxpayer money trying to unearth evidence of improper coordination between Obama and Wheeler. So is this yet another curious case of Congress and corporate America looking the other way, when the Trump administration brags about doing something for which they tried to prosecute the previous administration? How remarkable.
Chairman Pai, in fact, accused the Obama administration of bullying the former FCC adminstration into adopting the controversial net neutrality orders. Pai explained:
With respect to the order itself I cannot tell you what was in the minds of the past partisan majority of the FCC other than the fact that they were dutifully following the instructions of President Obama in 2014, who in an unprecedented way compromised the agency’s independence and told us to adopt these heavy-handed regulations that we did not want to adopt.
The Washington Post retracted its claim, arguing that Pai was in fact not in the same room as President Trump. The paper’s correction statement read: “An earlier version of this story suggested that Pai was in the same room as Trump. In fact, he attended a breakout session with other meeting members in a different building.”
Matthew Berry, chief of staff to FCC chair Pai, questioned in a tweet whether the Washington Post fact-checks their articles.
— Matthew Berry (@matthewberryfcc) June 23, 2017