back to article Why, why, Mr American Pai? FCC boss under increasing pressure in corporate favoritism row

Ajit Pai, chairman of America's telecoms regulator, the FCC, is under renewed scrutiny for making a string of decisions that benefited Sinclair, a major US broadcaster. Back in October, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel told a congressional hearing: "I think it has reached a point where all [the FCC's] media policy …

  1. redpawn Silver badge

    What a Guy

    Not that his direction is difficult to fathom but does he or his family have a financial interest in the outcome of his decisions?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: What a Guy

      He could have a cushy job in Sinclair waiting after he leaves, and since it's under-the-table stuff, no one will ever know until after the fact.

    2. sictransit

      Re: What a Guy

      "The case has also taken on a political dimension thanks to Sinclair's promotion of Republican issues including the controversial use of pre-recorded 'must run' news segments that its subsidiaries are ordered to play on local TV stations and which often feature a strongly partisan tone." https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/02/15/fcc_chairman_investigation/ #family

    3. elDog Silver badge

      Re: What a Guy

      And since most of the US government/politicians/lobbyists seem to be funded by non-traceable bags of dollars/rubles, we don't need to worry about his future welfare.

      Unless the real backbone of the government is able to watch these transactions and shove the hard stick of justice way up there.

      It may just be me, but my feelings are that all the scoundrels that have managed to take over the US since they bought the three branches - they are all trying to capture and horde their pieces of the cake before the door opens. I sure-as-fck hope that this shit gets clawed out of them and their mistresses and heirs and "business acquaintances" in as slow and painful manner as possible. And, I don't give another shit if it is returned to the taxpayers or Putin or Kochs. I just want it to be extraordinarily painful.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: What a Guy

        Watch it. They could be sado-masochists, able to get off giving AND receiving...

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: What a Guy

        "It may just be me, but my feelings are that all the scoundrels that have managed to take over the US since they bought the three branches - they are all trying to capture and horde their pieces of the cake before the door opens. I sure-as-fck hope that this shit gets clawed out of them and their mistresses and heirs and "business acquaintances" in as slow and painful manner as possible."

        It does seem as though history is repeating itself. Carnegie, Vanderbilt, Morgen, Rockefeller etc were all in bed with the politicians back in the day and had the cash to make things go their way.

        And don't just focus on the big bad and rich tech companies. There are plenty of other rich and powerful who are golf buddies with the elite politicos and senior officials.

  2. Vector

    "He tried to respond in a factual way without engaging in advocacy."

    ...aside from the whole "we need to elect conservatives and re-elect Trump" thing, no, no advocacy at all...

    1. Youngone Silver badge

      Re: "He tried to respond in a factual way without engaging in advocacy."

      Yes, well, black is really white, and up is down.

      1. Kane Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "He tried to respond in a factual way without engaging in advocacy."

        "Yes, well, black is really white, and up is down."

        "Now it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some thinkers have chosen to see it as the final and clinching proof of the non-existence of God. The argument goes something like this:

        "I refuse to prove that I exist," says God, "for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing."

        "But," says Man, "The Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't. QED."

        "Oh dear," says God, "I hadn't thought of that," and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

        "Oh, that was easy," says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.”

    2. 2Nick3 Bronze badge

      Re: "He tried to respond in a factual way without engaging in advocacy."

      Q: How do you keep the FCC from changing direction?

      A: Don't change the administration.

      Or 3 years ago:

      Q: How do you keep Obamacare in place?

      A: Don't change the administration.

      Or a non-political version:

      Q: How do you keep your house the same color?

      A: Don't paint it a different color.

      His answer is indeed factual - if you don't change the makeup of the FCC, the policies won't change.. Yes, it's partisan, but it is factual. Non-partisan would have been something like "Institute policies that fall within the charter of the FCC and protect the American citizen" but that's too much to hope for.

      And by being partisan it's going to be seen as him advocating, especially by those on the other side of the aisle. But it's not directly advocating. If he answered, "The only way to keep the FCC from going back to horrible decisions is to..." then I'd call it advocating.

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Perhaps the best way to describe Pai is: "An attention whore who is doing his master's bidding." At best, I hope for some marshals to show up at the office and haul him off in handcuffs on corruption charges.

    1. Wolfclaw Silver badge

      I prefer a turd with a smile !

  4. MalIlluminated

    Public Servent?

    Oh, right, that's what you call them over there. Here in the US we don't have those.

    1. Alt C

      Re: Public Servent?

      I honestly don't know what its like at the top of the civil service - Private Eye paints some very dangerous pictures of top Civil Service Mandarins walking into cushy jobs in industry - but at the bottom there are very stringent rules preventing any hint of favouritism - no nice meals out paid for by consultants at Christmas for the grunts - that may be a bribe. c.f. certain heads of HMRC I won't name.

    2. chivo243 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Public Servent?

      Or Public Serpent? Snake in the grass any way you spell it...

  5. Kev99 Bronze badge

    Well, if you love reactionary, oppressive, paranoid news and reporting, then what Pai is doing for Sinclair is just fine. If you prefer a fair and unbiased regulatory environment, you'll have to wait at least until 2021.

    1. DougS Silver badge

      Two of the network affiliates where I live are Sinclair owned. They aren't really as bad as most people think, there isn't any detectable slant in the local news reporting. The main difference is a "terrorism watch" report (produced at their HQ I guess) that apparently all Sinclair affiliates are required to run, presumably intended to drum up a little fear in the populace with the goal of making them want republicans (though I'm not sure if republicans will be seen as the go to party for "safety" once Trump gets through destroying it and his Russian collusion is exposed)

  6. Winkypop Silver badge
    Alert

    So

    Who's got a finger in the Pai?

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: So

      @ Winkypop:

      Finger? no, more like the kitchen scene in American Pai.

    2. earl grey Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: So - Who's got a finger in the Pai?

      That's more than a finger. With a dummy like that the whole hand and forearm has to be used.

  7. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "Sweet" Pai. So called because he keeps the regulatory environment sweet

    for his benefactors.

    I'd say it's pretty clear who got their bid in early for "sweetness."

    The US system allows people with no vetting to assume high levels of administrative authority. In theory this allows the proverbial "good man" to side step climbing the "greasy pole" and go in straight at the top.

    But after 300 of this stupid plan being hijacked by various self interested weasels who line their own pockets perhaps "The Greatest Country in the World" (TM, along with other self flattering BS) should perhaps consider a refactoring of the hiring processes into such senior (but un-elected) posts.

    1. jimdandy
      Windows

      Re: "Sweet" Pai. So called because he keeps the regulatory environment sweet

      Yes, this sucks - big time. And it is an ugly turn after things seemed better here in the US. However, before you go snarking about the troubles on this side of the Atlantic, perhaps you should consider just how well things are going elsewhere. Or not so much...

      Unless, of course you are Canadian. In which case you should just thank us for the increased immigration of English speaking peoples. Well, maybe not English, but American English. Eh?

    2. Mike Moyle Silver badge

      Re: "Sweet" Pai. So called because he keeps the regulatory environment sweet

      Were I the cynical and suspicious sort of individual -- which, of course, I'm NOT! -- I might suspect that part of the problem is that Pay was put into his current position by a man who gives every indication of distrusting anyone who appears as though he might be more intelligent or more competent than himself.

  8. Ole Juul Silver badge

    this isn't normal

    Normally that would be something that a regulator would wish to avoid.

    Normally, but he couldn't care less.

  9. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Devil

    maybe what's REALLY happening is...

    maybe what's REALLY happening is that the regulatory environment over at the FCC is becoming LESS "favored" towards those who've benefited from such "favoritism" in the past, which just HAPPENS to benefit one particular company, who perhaps has been TOO REGULATED until now?

    Just a thought. But it goes against a one-sided rant against Pai. You guys just don't like him because he shut down regulations at the FCC that would enforce "net neutrality", which is anything BUT what its name implies...

    I say "net free-for-all" and just comply with the technical standards so the nodes can still talk to one another. you know, like what it was for >20 years before "net neutrality". It seemed to work pretty well BEFORE, so why did we need "all this regulation" shoved into our orifices?

    Oh _I_ know why: to EMPOWER BUREAUCRATS so they *COULD* engage in various forms of favoritism! [and would THAT be so eagerly and well reported on if it were favoring OTHER than a large media company like Sinclair ???]

    Just sayin'... (and the downvotes are badges of honor, thanks in advance)

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: maybe what's REALLY happening is...

      "would THAT be so eagerly and well reported on if it were favoring OTHER than a large media company like Sinclair ?"

      I don't think you understand what "non-partisan" means. Pai isn't supposed to be favouring ANYONE. The story would be the same if he was favouring any specific individual or company.

  10. unwarranted triumphalism Bronze badge

    The hate on thid site for Mr Pai is quite worrying. You lot need to take a look at yourselves before the authorities start asking you some awkward questions.

  11. DCFusor Silver badge
    Facepalm

    The same old corruption

    While this may have partisan "results" I don't see the corruption here as partisan. Else we'd have to look at who deregulated banks (Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, both (D)) leading to the worse financial crash worldwide ever - and this is a tiny patch on that.

    I think bringing partisanship into this is the equivalent of "look, a squirrel" as this looks to me like the old revolving door regulator we've seen in all unelected bureaucracy from the FDA to the SEC to...you name it, these guys are bought regardless of which wing of the american uniparty claims ownership of them.

    We've tried blaming it all on "that other party" for decades, and here we are. Clearly that's not the answer.

    How about we deal with corruption as the bipartisan dash for the dollars that it truly is? We might make more progress that way, and have more allies. Honest people with any political leaning can then get behind the cause of reducing corruption more easily and we need all the help we can get. Blaming it on one political (fake) party means you lose any help from anyone in that party, and for example, I know plenty of republicans who would like to see Pai gone, but can't say and be "loyal party members" because the "other party" has made _everything_ into a political fight. This is not a winning approach.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: The same old corruption

      "Else we'd have to look at who deregulated banks (Barney Frank, Bill Clinton, both (D)) leading to the worse financial crash worldwide ever - and this is a tiny patch on that."

      That's probably the best argument against Trumps policy (and hence Pai's) of deregulating business and industry. There may well be a case for light touch reduction of regulation where it may be identified as having been heavy handed in the past, but the current regime seems to be very much against all regulation.

      PS, in case it's not clear, I'm not arguing against your point :-)

  12. Cuddles Silver badge

    Makes sense

    "Pai has been taking an ever-increasing partisan approach at an organization that has traditionally prided itself on objectivity – largely because telecoms policy is not known for being a hot bed of political intrigue."

    Presumably he picked it due to the lack of competition; if it was already a hotbed of political intrigue he'd have to compete with all the others trying to get a slice of the pie.

  13. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

    so, NOW we care

    too bad we didn't "care" about corporate favoritism the last decade, and will not care about such crony capitalism in about 2 1/2 years.

    Sadly "aware" seems to be only partisan these days.

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