August 16, 2018

At Senate Commerce Committee Hearing, Senator Hassan Presses FCC Chairman Pai and Commissioners on President Trump’s Portrayal of the Press As the “Enemy of the People”

Senator Also Highlights FCC Chairman Pai’s Misleading Statements about Impact of Repealing Net Neutrality Protections

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Click here to watch to the Senator’s remarks. 

WASHINGTON – Senator Maggie Hassan today participated in a Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing, where she pressed Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai, and FCC Commissioners Michael O’Reilly, Brendan Carr, and Jessica Rosenworcel on President Trump’s portrayal of the press as the “enemy of the people.” Senator Hassan’s questioning comes as hundreds of newspapers across the country published editorials today decrying this rhetoric from the President and standing up for the freedom of the press.

Senator Hassan asked all members of the panel to reply with a “yes” or “no” answer to the question of whether or not they “believe the President’s rhetoric is harmful to the values enshrined in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.” Chairman Pai and all of the Commissioners – with the exception of Commissioner Rosenworcel – failed to provide a direct answer and skirted the question. Senator Hassan noted the “reluctance to answer speaks for itself.”

The Senator also highlighted the negative impact of repealing net neutrality protections on New Hampshire’s entrepreneurs, small businesses, and the economy. Senator Hassan pushed back on an article Chairman Pai referenced in his testimony, which gave the claim that the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules would slow down internet traffic speeds three Pinocchio’s. Senator Hassan noted, “The full piece goes on to state that internet traffic hasn’t slowed down…yet.”

Senator Hassan asked, “Is there anything that would stop an internet service provider from blocking certain websites and content right now given the FCC’s roll back of net neutrality rules?”

Commissioner Rosenworcel replied, “The answer is no. We gave them the legal right to block websites and censor online content…I think history will demonstrate if you’ve got legal right, business incentive, and a technical ability, it will happen.” 

Senator Hassan followed up, “How will this impact consumers in my state and consumers across the country who rely on the internet as an even playing field for business and for innovation?”

Commissioner Rosenworcel responded, “It’s not good for anyone who consumes or creates online. We are adding another gatekeeper and toll online; we could have them build the internet into a fast lane for some and a slow lane that’s bumpy for the rest of us. I don’t think that’s the openness that has led our internet economy to thrive.” 

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