A push that sought to force media outlets to label President Trump's daily COVID-19 briefings as "scientifically suspect" has been thwarted.
On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission slapped down a request from a liberal media group called Free Press requiring television and radio networks to include a disclaimer during President Donald Trump's daily coronavirus briefings, during which he and his experts try to give Americans the lay of the land.
Free Press filed an emergency petition to set a policy that mandates media to "prominently disclose when information they air is false or scientifically suspect." But the FCC promptly denied the request, saying the sanctions would "dangerously curtail freedom of the press." As the FCC explained:
"At best, the petition rests on a fundamental misunderstanding of the Commission's limited role in regulating broadcast journalism. And at worst, the petition is a brazen attempt to pressure broadcasters to squelch their coverage of a president that Free Press dislikes and silence other commentators with whom Free Press disagrees."
The groups specifically had a problem with the president expressing hope for the drug hydroxychloroquine.
In an interview with OneNewsNow, Kyle Drennen of Media Research Center says the petition is dripping with irony. "I think it's ironic their name is Free Press," he offers. "They're saying media organizations should not be allowed to cover the White House coronavirus task force briefing."
He contends that what really has Free Press – not to mention the "Never-Trump" left – bothered is that they see the November elections slipping away.
"They don't like the idea that the president is out there from the White House being able to deliver a message on this every day," says Drennen. "[They're arguing that] 'Trump has an unfair advantage over Joe Biden' … or 'Joe Biden's having trouble with his messaging.'"
But the "antidote to the alleged harms" raised by Free Press, says the FCC, is not to require disclaimers but, ironically, to allow to a free press to continue "a critical function in providing the publican comprehensive coverage of the current public health crisis and the government's response."
And as for the veracity of what is reported during the president's daily briefings? "We leave to the press its time-honored and constitutionally protected role in testing the claims made by our political leaders …," the FCC concludes.
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