Senate Commerce Republicans are whipping opposition to the nomination of Gigi Sohn, one of President Joe Biden’s picks for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Biden nominated Sohn, former FCC counsel under Tom Wheeler and Ford Foundation alum, to an empty spot on the commission in late October, along with current acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel to the permanent position.
While Republicans have been quiet in their response to the nomination of Rosenworcel, many are pointing to Sohn’s public statements on conservatives as reasons to oppose her confirmation.
“Ms. Sohn is another radical leftist that President Biden is seeding his administration with,” Sen. Ron Johnson told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Her hostility to free speech and constitutional rights is breathtaking and should be a grave concern to every American.”
Sohn has a well-documented history of antipathy towards Republicans and conservative media, tweeting that “Fox News has had the most negative impact on our democracy,” calling the station “state-sponsored propaganda,” and demanding a government “hearing” into its broadcasts.
She also promoted a petition by left-wing advocacy organization Free Press urging the FCC to crack down on alleged misinformation surrounding COVID-19, citing specific examples from then-President Donald Trump and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh.
“Gigi Sohn’s nomination poses a threat to Americans’ First Amendment rights,” Sen. Marsha Blackburn told the DCNF. “Sohn has openly advocated using big government to censor and punish conservative media outlets.”
Sohn previously argued that Senate Republicans’ “ideology has overtaken their duty to serve their constituents” in reference to their opposition to a particular broadband subsidy, and described Trump as one of a group of “right-wing extremists,” and claimed the former president was “destroying the constitution.” She has also called for cracking down on online “misinformation” and “hate speech.”
“Microsoft is buying itself real aggravation,” she told The New York Times in August 2020 in reference to Microsoft’s potential acquisition of TikTok. “There’s no reason hate speech and misinformation won’t just keep growing.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham also pushed back on Sohn, describing her as “a complete political ideologue who has disdain for conservatives,” predicting that her potential tenure at the FCC would be a “nightmare” and promising to do everything in his power to “convince colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reject this extreme nominee.”
Top Senate Commerce Republicans, including Ranking Member Roger Wicker and Senate Minority Whip John Thune, criticized Sohn for her views on how government should regulate broadband networks. Sohn advocates for reclassifying broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 and imposing net neutrality requirements on networks, as well as regulating broadband rates.
“She’s very left, she’s going to be a heavy hand in regulation, very heavy in net neutrality,” Thune told Politico. “She’s going to be very much, I think, Big Government stepping on the scales.”
A senior GOP Senate aide told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Sohn was unlikely to receive any votes from Republicans on the Senate Commerce Committee.
“Sohn’s nomination is an endorsement by the Biden administration of abusing federal power to target and silence dissent,” Blackburn told the DCNF.
Sohn may also struggle to win over Democratic Sen. Kyrsten Sinema. While Sohn is a staunch advocate of Title II net neutrality regulations, Sinema has previously opposed returning to a Title II framework.
“I hope there are enough U.S. Senators who recognize the danger she represents and vote to deny her confirmation,” Johnson told the DCNF.
“I trust Gigi to get it right when it comes to protecting my free speech,” Bradley Blakeman, former adviser to President George W. Bush, said in a statement posted to Newsmax.
Sohn, who co-founded tech policy think tank Public Knowledge which is partially funded by left-wing billionaires Pierre Omidyar and George Soros, is due to receive a committee hearing in several weeks.
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