FCC Head Ajit Pai Investigated By His Agency for Corruption

FCC Chariman Ajit Pai became one of the most reviled figures in the United States recently when he led the movement to end net neutrality. Despite overwhelming public opposition, Pai’s push was successful. Therefore, Pai probably won’t receive a lot of public support now that he’s the subject of a corruption investigation by his very own agency.

Believe it or not, the FCC’s investigation of Pai has nothing to do with net neutrality. Instead, the focus is on the abrupt elimination of a bunch of longstanding media consolidation regulations that may have helped a media entity with which Pai is chummy.

That Sinclair Broadcasting Group directly benefited from the deregulation is not up for debate – Sinclair’s major acquisition of Tribune Media would have been blocked had the rules not conveniently vanished at just the right time.

The question at hand is whether Pai changed the rules specifically to aid Sinclair, which is precisely what FCC Inspector General David Hunt has set out to determine by opening an investigation.

In November, Care2 looked at how the relaxation of these rules would tank the quality of local news programming. The change allowed corporations to gobble up multiple news stations in the same market and make it so competition, diversity of opinion and actual local news could easily get lost in the shuffle.

Evidence points to Pai potentially coordinating with Sinclair leading up to the deregulation. Pai met with Sinclair’s CEO mere days before starting at the FCC, and he and his top aides kept in regular contact with Sinclair leadership in the ensuing months.

Many are afraid of a Sinclair local news takeover given its partisan approach to journalism. The entity, which is already in 72 percent of American households, requires its affiliated news programs to run pro-Trump segments and generally push a conservative agenda. On Last Week Tonight, John Oliver did a great piece on why the Sinclair takeover is so terrifying:

Some Democratic lawmakers have called on Pai to recuse himself on all votes and matters pertaining to Sinclair while the investigation is underway.

“I am particularly concerned about reports that Chairman Pai may have coordinated with Sinclair to time a series of Commission actions to benefit the company,” said U.S. Representative Frank Pallone. “I am greateful to the FCC’s Inspector General that he has decided to take up this important investigation.”

A spokesperson for Pai denied the charges of improper dealings against the FCC’s leader, contending, “The chairman is sticking to his long-held views, and given the strong case for modernizing these rules, it’s not surprising that those who disagree with him would prefer to do whatever they can to distract from the merits of his proposal.”

Although this issue may not be the one that net neutrality-backers would like to see Pai nailed for, it does suggest a pattern of Pai having allegiance to corporations over what’s good for the American people. If Pai is proved to have acted improperly, then just maybe his intentions aren’t pure when internet freedoms are sacrificed in favor of telecom companies’ wishes.

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture.

40 comments

Elaine W
Elaine W5 months ago

I am developing a real low opinion of tRump's "best people"

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Paulo R
Paulo R5 months ago

ty

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Margie F
Margie F6 months ago

Why do people do such things?

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Winn A
Winn Adams6 months ago

:-(

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Winn A
Winn Adams6 months ago

What Pam said!

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Ellie M
Ellie M6 months ago

ty

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pam w
pam w6 months ago

The trumplegroper has set a real TONE, hasn't he?

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Susan Vogel-Hudgins

Another Trump swamp dweller. It's just one scandal after another...VOTE to get rid of these thieves!

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R6 months ago

Thank you for posting.

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Virginia Miller
Virginia Miller6 months ago

Thanks

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