Gigi Sohn Withdraws Nomination To The FCC

Gigi Sohn is withdrawing her nomination to the FCC, after a 16-month battle in which she faced relentless attacks from industry lobbyists and from commentators on the right.

“When I accepted his nomination over sixteen months ago, I could not have imagined that legions of
cable and media industry lobbyists, their bought-and-paid-for surrogates, and dark money
political groups with bottomless pockets would distort my over 30-year history as a consumer
advocate into an absurd caricature of blatant lies,” Sohn wrote in a statement to The Washington Post. “The unrelenting, dishonest and cruel attacks on my character and my career as an advocate for the public interest have taken an enormous toll on me and my family.”

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “She has tremendous intellect and experience, and we thought and we believed that she would be a … great candidate and would have been an excellent political official in this role. It is unfortunate and we are sad to see this happen.”

The announcement of her withdrawal came after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said that he would vote against her, costing Democrats a crucial vote if her nomination made it to the floor.

Sohn faced three hearings before the Senate Commerce Committee.

Sohn, a public interest advocate who served as special counsel to the FCC during the Obama administration, became a target of right-wing media, with figures like Tucker Carlson weighing in against her.

“It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance
from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators,” Sohn said in her statement. “And with the help of their friends in the Senate, the powerful cable and media companies have done just that.”

The FCC has been deadlocked 2-2 between the parties, meaning that the agency has avoided taking up more contentious items, like net neutrality and media consolidation.

Before the Senate Commerce Committee for a third time last month, Sohn blasted “false and misleading attacks on my record and my character.”

A guilt-by-association Daily Mail story had linked her membership on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has often found itself at odds with studios and media companies over copyright issues, and its award to Mistress Blunt, a sex worker who was honored for her activism in digital rights and technology policy. EFF told the Daily Mail that Sohn had no role in selecting Blunt for the award.

Sohn would have been the first openly LGBTQ member to serve on the commission. She drew backing from figures such as Newsmax’s Chris Ruddy and One America’s Charles Herring, who credited her advocacy for smaller media entities in a cable universe dominated by media conglomerates.

But figures like Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) attacked Sohn as a partisan, citing some of her past tweets.

She faced two hearings last year, and her nomination advanced in a 14-14 vote in the Senate Commerce Committee. But it never came to the floor in the last Congress. President Joe Biden renominated her earlier this year.

More to come.

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