Ajit Pai
Ajit Pai

The Federal Communications Commission today rejected the Free Press media advocacy group's emergency petition urging it to help prevent the spread of false COVID-19 information on broadcast outlets.

The Republican-controlled FCC blasted the petition as 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.”

FP filed its petition on March 26, citing disinformation such as President Trump's mischaracterization of the efficacy of chloroquine as a remedy to coronavirus.

The group believes Trump' statements helped trigger a nationwide shortage of a drug integral to treating other ailments—exacerbating this health crisis

The FP also cited false statements made by syndicated talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh, and petitioned the FCC to use its full power to ensure that the public receives accurate information about this deadly pandemic.

The media group took a slap at the FCC for rejecting its plea.

“We’re still reviewing the FCC’s hastily issued denial, but the unusual speed with which it was issued is remarkable—as is this agency’s willingness to make such personal remarks about our organization," Jessica Gonzalez, FP co-CEO said in a statement. "Chairman [Ajit] Pai and Commissioner [Brendan] Carr have both refused to respond honestly in congressional oversight hearings and elsewhere when asked direct questions about president Trump's constant attacks on the press. But here they were in quite a hurry indeed."

The FP said many broadcast personalities with massive audiences are spreading harmful talking points about COVID-19.  "We believe it’s right to ask that the FCC clarify its rules in the context of this national emergency, as other agencies have done for other coronavirus," said Gonzalez.