Gigi Sohn's Critics Prepare for New Pushback Against FCC Nominee

Gigi Sohn at February 2022 Senate confirmation hearing
FCC nominee Gigi Sohn at February 2022 Senate confirmation hearing. (Image credit: Pete Marovich/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The opponents of Gigi Sohn's nomination to the Federal Communications Commission are bringing out their familiar artillery in their effort to keep her off the agency, where she would be the third Democrat, giving the Biden administration the majority it would need to tackle partisan issues, notably network neutrality rules.

Following President Joe Biden's renomination of Sohn last week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), launched an attack on her character and her politics, while Fox News Channel also ran a story taking aim.

“Gigi Sohn is one of the most radical and ethically compromised nominees I have ever seen during my Senate tenure and should never have been nominated in the first place,” Cruz said in a statement.

Also: Sohn: Fox News Criticism Does Not Extend to Viewers

Cruz — ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which votes on FCC nominations — said it was the committee's duty to conduct a “full and thorough vetting process” now that the president has thrown Sohn’s hat into the ring for a second time.

Sohn has already been nominated and vetted in two separate hearings, but that initial nomination failed to make it out of the Commerce Committee due to pushback from Republican critics and some concerns by a Democrat or two related to her net neutrality advocacy, views on rural broadband and tweets — as a public citizen — about Republicans, including former President Donald Trump.

Also: Sohn Says She Has Been Victim of Unfair Attacks

Cruz said there needs to be “updated paperwork, meetings with Senators and staff, and a new public hearing.”

Fox News ran a story January 8 pointing to a past Sohn tweet — actually a retweet of someone else — critical of former President Trump’s handling of racial issues, not a unique view among progressive Democrats. Sohn has tweeted criticisms of Fox News — also not unique among Democrats, which Fox pointed out in its story.
The story cited various Sohn critics, but she also has plenty of fans. Those include media mogul Byron Allen and three former chiefs of the FCC’s Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, including two former top military officers. 

Sohn is the former head of fair-use advocacy group Public Knowledge and a former top adviser to Obama-era FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. She would be the first openly gay commissioner and first from the public advocacy sector — there have been several from the private advocacy sector, including Wheeler, who once ran NCTA-The Internet & Television Association.

FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel is waiting on a fifth commissioner to be able to tackle potential broadcast and internet service provider reregulation that the two Republican members are unlikely to support. ▪️

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.