Biden FCC Nominee Draws Widespread Concern over Ethics, Extreme Views
On February 14, the Senate Commerce Committee will consider for the second time the nomination of Gigi Sohn to serve as a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Experts and lawmakers are pointing to a host of issues they say should disqualify her from consideration, including ethics concerns as well as far-left views on defunding police, sex trafficking, and censorship.
If confirmed, Sohn would give a 3-2 majority to Democrats out of the five commissioners that govern the FCC. The commission is an immensely powerful independent agency that regulates radio, television, wire, satellite, and cable communications and “maintains jurisdiction over the areas of broadband access, fair competition, radio frequency use, media responsibility, public safety, and homeland security.”
Sohn’s nomination has been held up since October 2021 over views that critics say are extreme and make her unqualified to fill a position that is meant to be a neutral arbiter of media. In 2020, she posted a tweet calling Fox News “state-sponsored propaganda” and implying that the media outlet is a threat to democracy. She also shared a tweet calling former President Trump a “raggedy white supremacist president.”
Sohn’s views have also drawn the ire of law enforcement advocates. The National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) publicly urged lawmakers to oppose her nomination due to “alarming” statements she has made in the past, including “retweet[ing] posts from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., arguing in favor of defunding the police” and liking a “tweet that suggested ‘a few bad cops’ should represent all cops.”
In addition, reports surfaced recently of Sohn’s seat on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which worked to oppose bipartisan legislation designed to combat sex trafficking. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate in 2018 before being signed into law. However, EFF argued the legislation would “lead to censorship and would harm online-based prostitutes.” Also notable is the fact that a group of 40 pro-abortion special interest groups have come forward in support of Sohn’s nomination, saying that her confirmation is “essential for reproductive rights.”
Sohn’s ethics have also been called into question due to her involvement with an app called Locast, which retransmitted broadcast signals of major stations without their permission. A federal judge eventually shut down the app and ordered the company to pay $32 million in damages.
Sohn has also drawn criticism for her support of “net neutrality,” a plan that would regulate internet service providers (ISPs) as public utilities in order to ensure that internet speed and bandwidth are constantly uniform across the internet. Critics say fears over ISPs slowing down speeds have never come to fruition, with average speeds increasing exponentially over the past 10 years. They also point to how regulatory burdens imposed on ISPs would likely stunt the growth of internet expansion.
“I’m disturbed by her basic worldview and philosophy about broadcast freedom or the lack thereof,” ACLJ attorney and special counsel Craig Parshall said on “Washington Watch” last year. “… [Sohn] seems to have a real appetite for censorship. She wouldn’t call it that. She’d simply say that [it’s] ‘eradicating dangerous misinformation’ about political, social, and religious issues that foment the population. Well, no matter what you call it, it is a violent suppression of free speech.”
Dan Hart is senior editor at The Washington Stand.