Not everyone will buy this, but the FCC's internal watchdog found no evidence of a "concealment or cover-up" by Chairman Ajit Pai on interactions with the White House related to the failed Sinclair-Tribune merger.
The FCC's Inspector General, acting on a request from House Energy & Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, investigated allegations of "material omissions" about conversations with the White House on the controversial deal.
Politico writes that Pallone asked Pai to commit to publicly disclosing White House discussions about the merger at a congressional oversight hearing July 25. Pai agreed, but didn't mention an earlier July conversation with then-White House counsel Don McGahn until a Senate hearing in August. Pai said then that McGahn was simply seeking details on the agency's decision to doom the deal by sending it through a lengthy administrative procedure.
Pallone didn't directly ask if Pai had already spoken with the White House on Sinclair, but only that any contacts henceforth be placed in the public docket, the IG report said. "Chairman Pai's response was tailored to the question that was asked, and he committed to comply with Ranking Member Pallone's request, to the extent permitted by the ex parte rules."
The report notes commission rules wouldn't require disclosure of the conversation with McGahn in the public docket. Investigators also didn't find evidence of other communications between the White House and FCC staff on the deal.
The IG's office found no evidence of favoritism toward Sinclair in an August report.