Commentary / Coronavirus

A Progressive Media Group Demanded Censorship of Trump’s Coronavirus Press Briefings. The FCC Said No.

trumpThe progressive media organization Free Press thinks President Donald Trump is spreading dangerous misinformation during his televised press briefings on the government’s coronavirus response. So it petitioned federal regulators to make broadcasters either stop airing them or “put those lies in context with disclaimers noting that they may be untrue and are unverified.”

It was an odd demand. If Free Press think the president is abusing his authority, the group probably shouldn’t be asking his administration to police how people cover the president’s pronouncements. Seems like the sort of request that could backfire.

Thankfully, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rejected the petition on Monday, sending a stern rebuke to anyone who thinks censorship is a valid response to problematic speech.

“The federal government will not—and never should—investigate broadcasters for their editorial judgments simply because a special interest group is angry at the views being expressed on the air as well as those expressing them,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement. “In short, we will not censor the news.”

Free Press based its argument for FCC intervention on public health, reasoning that Trump—as well as certain right-wing media personalities, like Rush Limbaugh—had given false information that could lead people to make unsound medical decisions. The petition specifically cited the president’s praise for the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which is unproven as a remedy for COVID-19.

It’s true that the FCC has some power to prevent the dissemination of false information. But federal law wisely places important limits on the agency, and for obvious reasons. No one should want regulators to have broad discretionary power to suppress speech that they subjectively believe is contrary to the public interest. This would inevitably lead to politically motivated censorship of speech that criticizes government actors.

In rejecting the petition, FCC General Counsel Thomas Johnson Jr. cogently explained that the FCC can take action against broadcasters only if they knew the information being broadcast was false, if they knew it would cause substantial harm, and if the information actually did cause substantial harm. Johnson pointed out that Free Press’s demand for censorship fails on all three counts:

At this moment, broadcasters face the challenge of covering a rapidly-evolving, national, and international health crisis, in which new information—much of it medical or technical in nature and therefore difficult to corroborate or refute in real time—is continually revealed, vetted, and verified or dismissed. In addition, we note that the President and members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, including public-health professionals, have held daily press conferences in which they exhaustively answer critical questions from the press. Under such circumstances, it is implausible, if not absurd, to suggest that broadcasters knowingly deceived the public by airing these press conferences or other statements by the President about COVID-19. Moreover, there is a strong argument that broadcasters are serving the public interest when they air live coverage of important news events, such as briefings by the President, the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and state governors, during this national emergency.

The impulse to punish broadcasters for letting people hear what their government officials have to say for themselves is bizarre, and it’s a relief to see the FCC take the obvious position that the First Amendment prohibits such censorship. Media outlets can choose whether they want to air Trump’s remarks on COVID-19—or anyone else’s. The government doesn’t get to make this decision for them.


Reprinted with Permission from - Reason.com by - Robby Soave

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aluminum head
2 years ago

Looks like CNN, MSNBC, ABC, NBC, and CBS are in big trouble just for their nightly news.

Geo. M
2 years ago

Just another President Trump heating group of idiots. Sorry but he is your President too. The thing I like is that I know it burns them every day.

Edward Vagnoni
2 years ago

The, “Free Press”, and the, “Daily Worker”, are both Communist organizations.

H L Howell
2 years ago

where is McCarthy when you need him.

Joyce Gibson
2 years ago

President Trump is giving the American People current, valuable information on the COVID-19 Virus. He has the information to back him up and I think ALL citizens should be thankful that we have him for a President in these trying times.

Judy
2 years ago

What we’re seeing partly is God’s intervention to wake us up. Christian’s are constantly warned in the bible about staying grounded in our faith. But faith has wained in the country for a long time. Because Christians have stepped back and the Left has been grossly emboldened to impose their anti-God movement in our society and especially in our schools. The bible tells us when a nation forgets God they will fall. We’re pretty close to that right now with all the hate and insanity perpetrated by the Left. The real question that should be asked right now is will we act upon what God is showing us from the chaos we’ve allowed to choke us out? Are we going to humble ourselves before Him and repent of our backsliding ways and rely solely on His righteous judgements and ways? I think it’s about time we do because if we don’t things are going to get much worse. I really believe everything that’s happening is due to our own foolishness and not putting God above everything in our lives.

That said, the Devil is in the works of what the undeniably rediculous and hypocritical Leftists are trying to do in suppressing certain information they just don’t want to hear. It’s just baffling to me that there is actually such blatant stupidity running rampant on the Left. Pertaining to this virus, it is no where near as deadly as has been reported by the media. The Democrats have taken the ball and run with it in making it political. Everyone who has the God given ability to reason knows what they’re up to and will go to any extreme to get the President out of office. Any Democrat that truly has a conscience cannot possibly continue to support the party with the understanding of how devious and dangerous they are to this country. Many have walked away and joined the Republican Party. The Republican Party isn’t by any means doing enough for the people who elected them. The President is trying to drain that swamp. Of course he’s not perfect either which works against him sometimes, but I think he’s learning.
So what’s it gonna be America? God has to be on the front lines, because if He’s not the battle will be long and brutal and in the end we will lose.

RFOX
2 years ago

We have long since reached the point where these people need to be called out for what they are, not liberals or even leftists, they are god damn communists no matter how you look at it. Those of us who are true conservatives and believe in freedom of speech believe they have the right to speak their minds. They believe we only have the right to speak our minds if we agree with their marxist ideas!!! That is just plain stupid. These people are physcopaths!!!!!!

Fairy love
2 years ago

The media should be censored for all the lies they are telling. Especially cnn

David Campbell
2 years ago

It would be much easier for the fake news media to lie about what president Trump actually says if what he actually says is not broadcast directly to the people.

Gary
2 years ago

American Citizens must pay close attention to the Democrats attempts to destroy our Country.
Complacency, ignorance of facts, blindly supporting feel good ideas without looking closely at their real agendas, allow them to take away your freedom.
Follow the money, green new deal, voting without ID, open borders, expansive bureaucracy, sending tax dollars to corrupt dysfunctional global organizations, ALL bad for Americans.
Question,challange,research…..everything.

Mike
2 years ago

As far as I can see, the so called free press has already censored what we should and shouldn’t see or hear from our President as they do not give the daily briefs air time. Thank you Fox News for airing these daily briefs.

Marlene Turner
2 years ago

Why are they letting china send mask and supplies here i just read where some one said china isputting the virus in needles for testing and mask and ventilation so as long as china sends things here its gonna be here if they made it to kill people

The Observer
2 years ago
Reply to  Marlene Turner

We should not be getting masks and supplies from China, we should be making our own medical equipment. Its time to stop geting things made in China.

Susan
2 years ago

I am just happy that there are no Trump haters among the FCC conducting a deep state attack against the president. The FCC got it right.

dino deplorable
2 years ago

Why don’t you so called”progressives”go fly your kite in some other country.Why don.t you ?? because no other country would put up with your”BULL EXHAUST” !!

Doug G.
2 years ago

So the “Free Press” wants to censor the President’s press conferences. Can’t make this stuff up!

BruceM
2 years ago

The liberal radical left wing media cannot stand it when:
1. They’re not the center of attention
2. They cannot control content
3. What is being spoken to the masses does not agree with their twisted view of how things work
4. Any spoken words or utterances made by ANYONE reflect favorably on Donald Trump

So if Donald Trump announced that the research grants he had personally directed budgeted dollars to fund that one month later developed a break-through vaccine for coronavirus that wound up saving tens of thousands of lives…..this radical left wing group, led by Nancy Pelosi, would immediately begin an investigation into Trump misappropriating funds, resulting in new impeachment proceedings. That is how sick this group have become.

Mickie Enders
2 years ago

This is as close as the left can get to Hitler’s regulation of the media!

Sharon Ormsby
2 years ago

That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. It’s performing miracles! Everyone should be using them!

jerry dee
2 years ago

fake news is at it again….

Carla Anderson
2 years ago

WTH is wrong with all these people treating our POTUS with such disrespect???? They show true ignorance every single day, and it just confirms the agenda of the left. What is going on now will happen again, because it was just too easy, however had it been Obama in office things would be so very different!!!! WE need to get our Country back and I hate to say it, but I do not believe it has required the actions in which we are all having to endure now!!! PRAYER is important and GOD IS CONTROL.

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