Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai said Monday that he does not believe the media is the "enemy of the people" as President Trump has tweeted, after sidestepping that question during a Senate Commerce hearing earlier this month.
Last week several Democrats on the Senate Commerce Committee pressed Pai about the media in a letter, including asking him whether he believes that the media are the "enemy," as Trump has labeled several major outlets. Pai responded Monday in his own letter: "No."
The senators' letter was signed last week by Commerce Committee Democrats including ranking member Bill NelsonBill NelsonLawmakers stare down challenge of cyber-enabled ‘fake news’ United explains passenger removal to senators Overnight Cybersecurity: Ex-officials warn 'Buy American' might harm Pentagon cybersecurity | Chair nudges Trump on cyber order | House gets security training MORE (Fla.) and Tom UdallTom UdallIT modernization bill reintroduced in Congress Overnight Energy: Trump orders review of national monuments, claiming ‘egregious abuse’ Dem vows to fight Trump 'every step of the way' on national monuments MORE (N.M.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.).
They wrote that they found "the lack of full transparency" from Pai during the hearing on the FCC “to be unfortunate.”
“Specifically, your refusal to answer straightforward questions about how you view the media and whether you will uphold the First Amendment rights of journalists and media outlets is concerning,” their letter read.
During the oversight hearing, Pai declined to directly respond to questions about whether or not he agreed with Trump’s statement that the press is the “enemy," saying that he didn’t want to “wade into larger political debates.”
"I should note that at the hearing, I was asked if I agreed with the President that the media was the ‘enemy’ of the people. However, the President has made clear that he was referring to 'fake news,'” Pai clarified in his response. "As I stated at the hearing, these comments are part of a larger political debate into which I will not be wading."
In Trump's original tweet calling the media the 'enemy of the people,' the president specifically singled out The New York Times, CNN and NBC.
This story was last updated at 4:06 p.m.