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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai earlier this year. Photo: Robin Groulx/Axios

Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is doubling down on his critique of tech companies, asking whether social media is "a net benefit to American society" in remarks at the Media Institute on Wednesday. "Now, I will tell you upfront that I don't have an answer."

The bigger picture: Pai is taking on Silicon Valley giants as he tries to repeal net neutrality rules. Yesterday, Pai said web platforms are more of a threat to free speech than the internet service providers. Today he's arguing they are responsible for polarizing Americans politically and alienating them personally.

What he said: Pai made the case that social media has been key to the politicization of many aspects of American life. "Everything nowadays is political. Everything. … This view that politics-is-all is often made worse by social media," he said, per his prepared remarks.

And he argued it's caused people to lose their roots in the real world. "In a way, one could say that 'social media' is perhaps the most inapt phrase ever coined," he said. "It allows us to stay in touch while keeping a distance. It has sped the breakdown in human interaction."

Go deeper: Our reporting on Pai's comments on Tuesday, and Silicon Valley's response.

Go deeper

18 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Manchin's massive means test

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) is offering progressives a trade: He'll vote for their cherished social programs if they accept strict income caps for the recipients, people familiar with the matter tell Axios.

Why it matters: Manchin’s plan to use so-called means-testing for everything from paid family medical leave to elder and disabled care would drastically shrink the size and scope of the programs. It also would bring a key moderate vote to the progressive cause.

The China whisperer

Nick Burns. Photo: Chen Mengtong/China News Service via Getty Images

President Biden's nominee for ambassador to China will face aggressive questioning Wednesday about the most important, and potentially perilous, bilateral relationship in the world.

Why it matters: While Nick Burns is an experienced diplomat with support on both sides of the aisle, lawmakers want to use his confirmation hearing to force the administration into some tough positions on China.

Jan. 6 committee recommends contempt charges against Bannon

Steve Bannon. Photo: Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riots unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday night recommending that former Trump aide Steve Bannon be held in contempt of Congress for refusing to comply with a subpoena.

Why it matters: The resolution sets up a House vote to refer Bannon for potential criminal prosecution, signaling that the committee will not tolerate attempts by former President Trump and his associates to stymie the investigation.