A commissioner on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has accused Democrats of crossing a "clear line drawn by the First Amendment" by pressuring the agency to block the sale of a popular Miami Spanish-language radio station.
Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus called last week for the FCC to stop the sale of WSUA-AM to America CV, owner of the conservative América TeVé network.
Republican FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr objected in a tweet on Monday.
"Democrats in Congress are pressuring the FCC to block the sale of a radio station based on the political viewpoints it would broadcast to South Florida’s Hispanic community," Carr tweeted. "This crosses a clear line drawn by the First Amendment and would turn the FCC into an arm of the DNC."
In an interview with Fox News, Carr said the politics of the buyer and the views of the station itself were not relevant to the FCC, calling it "none of our business."
"The argument that’s been put forward is a naked political one," he said. "It doesn’t mean anything to me as a Republican if the purchaser is conservative or if the purchaser is progressive. That consideration shouldn’t be entering the fray."
The FCC is led by interim Democratic chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, who was appointed by President Biden in January.
Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla., said stopping the sale was necessary because "dangerous rhetoric can't go unchecked."
"It’s interesting that he’s doubled down on this claim that the FCC shoud be acting purely based on the political positions of this radio station," Carr said in response.
A person familiar with the situation told Fox News the FCC's chief concern in a licensing deal is to ensure that there are a certain number of different owners in a given market, but politics don't play into it. A certain market could, in theory, have all liberal or all conservative station owners.
While President Biden won the 2020 presidential election, he lost Florida to Republican Donald Trump by a greater margin than Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump's gains among Latino voters, particularly in the Miami area, were instrumental in his victory there, alarming Democrats who worry one of the country's largest states is slipping away from them.
America CV already fired WSUA's Raul Martinez, the former Democratic mayor of Hiahleah and its top-rated host, according to Newsweek. That angered House Democrats like Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz, the chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus's political arm BOLDPAC.
"What happens is the independence starts eroding away," he told Newsweek. "For a lot of these communities this is the only source they watch, a lot of them aren't crossing over and watching other media like CNN, so they end up being siloed in terms of the information they get. They only go to the trusted source so when that source gets corrupted, you essentially have a population getting one point of view."
Florida Democrats were particularly upset over the rhetoric about their party supporting "socialist" policies, knowing the word carries powerful sway with Florida residents whose families fled left-wing regimes for the United States.
The dust-up over the WSUA sale comes after some liberals recently called for the return of the Fairness Doctrine as a means of censoring opposing voices. The widely criticized FCC rule required broadcast license holders to present both sides of issues fairly.
Conservatives praised the FCC for dropping the rule in 1987 because it was stifling free speech, as some networks avoided controversial topics out of fear of violating it. Others have said it would be disastrous for FCC regulators to determine what it and isn't "fair" in the name of balance.
"The Fairness Doctrine results in news coverage that looks like 1990s airline food, as opposed to a diverse environment with different viewpoints," Carr told Fox News.
Carr said his fellow commmissioners should speak out against Democrats calling for the FCC to thwart the sale, saying they were merely upset over a progressive outlet becoming conservative. So far as he could tell, the application process to transfer control of the WSUA license to its new owner was likely to proceed normally.