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Critics Charge That Biden FCC Pick Will Silence Conservative Voices

11-22-2021
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(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

President Biden's FCC nominee wants more government control of the airwaves, says her critics.

A nomination hearing for Gigi Sohn could happen as early as next week. The White House insists that Sohn is a leading advocate for open and affordable communications networks that promote democracy.

But some Republicans insist she is a progressive partisan who wants to silence conservative voices and say she is the President's most dangerous nomination yet. 

Sohn, a communications attorney, is one of two of the President's progressive picks for the agency, and a longtime supporter of net neutrality regulation. 

Previously serving as counselor to the FCC chair under Barack Obama, Sohn was an architect of the commission's 2015 net neutrality order which was gutted by a Republican-led FCC two years later. 

"Everybody likes net neutrality. What they don't like is the FCC's ability to be a referee on the field to make sure networks are fast, fair, and open," said Sohn.

Sohn is the founder of "Public Knowledge" which wants more government control of the internet and media. 

She's also hinted at deploying the agency's regulatory power to censor conservative media and revive a version of its mooted fairness doctrine.

The FCC wields extensive authority over broadband providers, wireless companies, and TV and radio broadcasters. 

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) blasted the nomination on Twitter saying "Gigi Sohn is a complete political ideologue who has disdain for conservatives … She would be a complete nightmare for the country when it comes to regulating the public airwaves. I will do everything in my power to convince colleagues on both sides of the aisle to reject this extreme nominee."

GOP critics also point to past statements, saying they are red flags that she'll censor conservative media.

"For all my concerns about #Facebook, I believe that Fox News has had the most negative impact on our democracy. It's state-sponsored propaganda with few if any opposing viewpoints," Sohn said last year.

After Tribune Broadcasting abandoned its merger with the right-leaning Sinclair broadcast group in 2018, Sohn declared that "Today is a good day for every American who believes that diversity of voices in the media is better for our democracy. The FCC should look at whether Sinclair is qualified to be a broadcast licensee at all."

Currently, the agency is deadlocked in a partisan, 2-2 tie, rendering it politically hamstrung. 

Sohn's nomination comes alongside that of FCC Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel for a second term. Their nominations come as Biden hopes to spend billions on an expansion of access to high-speed broadband in his infrastructure package. 

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