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Susan Walsh / AP

The FCC's decision last week to pull back on the eligibility of nine providers to offer service through Lifeline, a subsidy program for low-income consumers to get phone and broadband service, was met with significant media attention — especially for a Friday afternoon.

New FCC chairman Ajit Pai isn't pleased with how the press painted the move. He said in a Tuesday Medium post that "media headlines sensationalized this story" and offered an "entirely misleading impression of what is going on." He added:

Hyperbolic headlines always attract more attention than mundane truths. For example, a story detailing how the FCC was undertaking further review of the eligibility of 1% of Lifeline providers wouldn't generate too many clicks.

Pai's defense: Pai noted that the move only affects 9 out of "over 900" Lifeline providers, and that most had yet to serve customers. He also said that the providers' applications haven't been rejected, just kicked back to the agency for continued review. He argued the commission needs to ensure the right anti-fraud safeguards are in place "before expanding the program to new providers," and that it was in doubt whether the agency had the legal authority to certify the providers' role in the program at all.

The bigger picture: The new chair has made closing the digital divide a key part of his initial agenda, but hasn't offered a comprehensive vision for the future of the Lifeline program since he took over. In the past, he has pushed for a budget cap on the program. Regardless of what he does next, though, Pai is showing a willingness — not totally unlike the president who appointed him — to move quickly to roll back moves taken by his predecessor.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
28 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."

Cedric Richmond: We won't wait on GOP for "insufficient" stimulus

Top Biden adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" the White House believes it has bipartisan support for a stimulus bill outside the Beltway.

  • "If our choice is to wait and go bipartisan with an insufficient package, we are not going to do that."

The big picture: The bill will likely undergo an overhaul in the Senate after House Democrats narrowly passed a stimulus bill this weekend, reports Axios' Kadia Goba.