Mar 8, 2017

FCC chief takes heat on Trump's media comments

Robin Groulx / Axios

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai found himself answering for President Trump's media bashing at a Wednesday Senate hearing, less than 24 hours after the president renominated him as the top regulator.

The top line: The chairman wouldn't say directly whether he agreed with President Trump's statements that certain media outlets are the "enemy of the American people" because he didn't want to "wade into the larger political debate." He did, however, express support for the First Amendment. He responded similarly when asked about White House adviser Steve Bannon's declaration that the media should "keep its mouth shut." Pai said that he had "not made comments like that."

The details: Pai also said he hasn't spoken with anyone in the administration about AT&T's proposed $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, which the president has criticized. He also generally reiterated that the FCC would act independently of the White House.

Why it matters: The exchange underscores how Trump's continued attacks on the media raise questions for Pai. Telecom giants regulated by the FCC have expanded their push into news content, from the AT&T deal to Comcast's investment in multiple digital media outlets to Verizon's purchase of Huffington Post owner Aol.

Note: Comcast's NBC is an investor in Axios and Andy Lack is a member of the Axios board.

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Hungary's Viktor Orbán granted sweeping powers amid coronavirus crisis

Viktor Orbán. Photo: Michal Cizek/AFP via Getty Images

Hungary's parliament passed a law Monday to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán almost unlimited power, for an indefinite period, to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Hungary has taken a sharply authoritarian turn over the past decade under Orbán, and its likely that he and other strongman leaders around the world will seek to maintain powers they gain during the current crisis long after it's over.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 737,929 — Total deaths: 35,019 — Total recoveries: 156,507.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 143,055 — Total deaths: 2,513 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. Trump latest: The president brushed aside allegations that China is spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus on "Fox & Friends."
  5. Business updates: Americans are calm about their retirement savings despite coronavirus fallout.
  6. World updates: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate after an aide tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

BIG3 to create a hybrid reality show about quarantine basketball

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Sports are on pause, and there's no timetable for their return. In the interim, leagues, teams and athletes are getting creative with ways to keep fans engaged.

The latest: A "quarantined reality show basketball tournament," courtesy of the BIG3, the upstart 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube and his longtime business partner Jeff Kwatinetz.

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