By Dan Hart
The nomination of a commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) may seem like a routine matter, but in this time of unprecedented crackdowns on the freedom of speech, nothing about the federal regulation of media should be considered routine. Indeed, even a cursory look at Biden administration FCC nominee Gigi Sohn’s background is cause for grave concern for free speech, which is why Senate Republicans are mounting strong opposition to Sohn potentially serving as an FCC commissioner.
“I’m disturbed by her basic worldview and philosophy about broadcast freedom or the lack thereof,” said ACLJ attorney and special counsel Craig Parshall on “Washington Watch.” “Broadcast freedom, you know, has been protected for long enough where a lot of us who are in this area felt fairly comfortable regardless of who is in the White House in terms of the freedom of broadcasters to pick content that may be controversial as long as it’s not illegal, and they’re free to be the conservative, libertarian, or liberal, or anything in between. But she seems to have a real tension, a real appetite for controlling content, and that’s my concern.”
What makes Sohn’s nomination particularly worrisome is that she would represent the tie-breaking fifth vote on issues that the FCC rules on, with the Commission’s current two-two split between conservative and liberal commissioners. As Parshall pointed out, this could mean a rollback of free speech in a whole host of ways.
“President Reagan, during his administration, had [the Fairness Doctrine] disbanded, but it was a pernicious problem because it basically browbeat radio and television networks not to have any opinion for the sake of running into a regulatory nightmare and hiring more lawyers on their staff than broadcasters. She can use techniques like ‘misinformation’ as grounds to clamp down on content that she doesn’t like, particularly conservative content. And I have no question that that would probably become one of her primary positions. She could also use the old ‘Public Interest Doctrine,’ which is still a part of the FCC law and regulations, as rubric for viewpoint suppression against [views] that she happens to disagree with.”
As multiple senators have pointed out during Sohn’s confirmation hearing, even a brief glance at what she has publicly posted on social media makes her left-wing activist views crystal clear, calling into question her ability to remain impartial in her decision-making. In addition, an advocacy group Sohn co-founded was funded by leftist billionaire George Soros, and she was embroiled in a copyright infringement lawsuit with NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox over a supposed “nonprofit” that she worked for that made money off of the big network’s content.
Perhaps most concerning, though, is her support for increasing the federal regulation of the internet, including the idea of “net neutrality,” which would impose huge regulatory burdens on internet providers, in addition to her support for the federal regulation of “misinformation.” It’s easy to see how this kind of increased regulation would lead to the suppression of conservative speech. With Christian radio being one of the last areas that the Left has been unable to clamp down on, it’s easy to see how a liberal FCC would begin to target conservative media.
“[Sohn] seems to have a real appetite for censorship,” Parshall observed. “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. And remember that the FCC is the arm of the federal government. So when the ire of the federal government says we’re going to pick and choose winners and losers in terms of what opinions and viewpoints and information comes over the broadcast airwaves, we are in big trouble.”
Contact your senators and urge them to oppose the confirmation of Gigi Sohn to the FCC.