Trump Rescinds Renomination Of Republican FCC Commissioner

The White House late Monday afternoon rescinded the renomination of Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly, who questioned President Trump's attempt to regulate social media.

Two weeks ago, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to approve O'Rielly's renomination for a new five-year term, retroactive to July 1, 2019 -- when his last appointment officially expired. 

Trump renominated O'Rielly in March. The White House did not give a reason for the revocation.

Last week, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) put O'Rielly's renomination on hold, but for reasons unrelated to Trump's attempted crackdown on social media. Inhofe reportedly placed a hold on the nomination because he disagreed with the FCC's unanimous decision to allow Ligado Networks to offer mobile broadband via the L-Band Spectrum -- which is also used by GPS systems.

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Trump recently ordered the Commerce Department to petition the FCC for rules that could expose tech companies to lawsuits for posts by users.

Currently Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act protects companies like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook from lawsuits based on material posted by users.

Last week, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration followed through on Trump's order by filing a 57-page petition asking for regulations that would tie web companies' Section 230 protections to the companies' content moderation policies.

O'Rielly expressed skepticism about the order on at least two occasions.

In June, he questioned the FCC's authority to issue Section 230 regulations.

“Did Congress provide us authority to act?” Michael O'Rielly said in an interview for C-SPAN's “The Communicators” series, slated to air on Saturday. “I have reservations they provided any intentional authority for this matter.”

And last week, he again appeared skeptical of the order.

“Like it or not, the First Amendment’s protections apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making,” he said in a speech delivered to The Media Institute. “I shudder to think of a day in which the Fairness Doctrine could be reincarnated for the Internet, especially at the ironic behest of so-called free speech 'defenders.'”

Many in the media and advertising industry -- including the Association of National Advertisers -- have argued that an attempt to regulate web companies' editorial policies by linking them to Section 230 protection would violate the First Amendment.

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