‘Wall Street Journal’ Takes Fresh Aim at FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn

Gigi Sohn
FCC nominee Gigi Sohn (Image credit: C-SPAN)

The editorial board of News Corp.’s The Wall Street Journal continued its push to defeat the nomination of Gigi Sohn for the fifth Democratic seat on the Federal Communications Commission.

Without that Democratic majority, the commission can't restore the net neutrality rules both FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel and President Joe Biden both favor or potentially restore broadcast ownership regulations thrown out by a federal court.

In an editorial in the Wall Street Journal, a News Corp.-owned property, the paper's editorial board added the Fraternal Order of Police opposition — which dates from March — to Sohn as the latest weapon in an ongoing campaign. The Journal said the FOP’s stand appears to have put a trio of Democratic votes in doubt, specifically Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Mark Kelly of Arizona and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada. If so, that would definitely be a blow to Sohn’s chances.

Also: Sohn Says She Has Been Subject of Unfair Attacks

The paper pointed to Sohn’s past tweets, cited by the FOP in March, of calls for reforming or defunding the police (in Sohn's case, specifically defunding police surveillance) following the killing of George Floyd, which arguably put her in the mainstream of progressive Democrats at the time. Fox News Channel hosts have generally been critical of the Black Lives Matter protests and calls for defunding the police.

News Corp. already opposes Sohn for her association with the Locast streaming service, a point it also made again in this week's editorial. Locast asserted its right to deliver TV station signals — including those owned by Fox Corp., which, like News Corp., is controlled by Rupert Murdoch and his family — without seeking permission or paying a carriage fee. A court ultimately ruled Locast was not entitled to the copyright exemption it thought it could use.

The editorial also again pointed to Sohn’s tweets — as a private citizen — critical of Fox News. Sohn has pointed out that all her tweets were personal and would have no bearing on how she would make decisions at the FCC, which would be based on the facts in each case.

The editorial concedes that business groups are not strongly opposed to Sohn, arguing that perhaps broadcasters and broadband providers are resigned to their re-regulatory fate under a third Democrat, whoever it is. ■

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.