You can go back to October of last year to trace the slow-moving train wreck that has been Gigi Sohn’s nomination to the Federal Communication Commission. Lots of hearings, advocacy and lobby groups weighing in, and as this column goes to press, her nomination is about where it was when it started: In purgatory.
In case you don’t remember, Joe Biden nominated Sohn to the FCC because of her impressive résumé and progressive street cred. What didn’t get picked up in Sleepy Joe’s vetting process (Surprise!) are some of her toxic positions that have angered people with real influence in DC. They’ve raised questions about whether she can make fact-based decisions over a huge swath of the US economy.
More chilling is what Sohn’s travails say about the Biden administration’s incompetence on issues large and small. Sorry, if you can’t get a simple nomination to a regulatory agency right, there’s no way you’re going to fix what ails the $25 trillion US economy like surging inflation and a looming recession.
Like most Bidenesque fails, this one was completely avoidable. No one is questioning Sohn’s knowledge of the issues: She’s a Georgetown law professor and a longtime telecom expert who served in the Obama White House. It’s her politics that makes Sohn a near non-starter for her necessary Senate confirmation. She’s a staunch advocate of lefty edicts including net neutrality, which essentially treats Internet providers as utilities, forcing them to provide content free of charge. That puts her in conflict with at least half the 50-50 Senate who believe such oversight will stifle innovation and actually drive consumer costs higher.
Adding further doubt is Sohn’s problematic Twitter trail on some hot-button issues the Biden people could have found if they cared enough to do a simple Google search.
One example: She attacked my employer, Fox News, as “dangerous to our democracy.” I know it’s not exactly unheard of for the libs to hate on us. But as an FCC commissioner she needs to follow the administrative code that demands some degree of impartiality in rulemaking on regulated entities like Fox.
Her alleged ‘nonprofit’
And what about the First Amendment issues involving the government telling the public what content is dangerous? My sources say plenty of people in the Senate, including moderate Dems like Joe Manchin of West Virginia, are asking those same questions.
Then look up the travails of an outfit known as Locast. Sohn was a board member with the alleged nonprofit created to provide local programming to people who can’t afford cable. It did this by siphoning and streaming broadcast signals from the big media companies.
Apparently there is nothing wrong with that as long as service is a true nonprofit; a federal judge ruled it wasn’t because it took in money euphemistically labeled as “donations.” Locast settled with the broadcasters and agreed to shut down.
And on top of it all, Sohn has also managed to piss off the cops.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the nation’s largest police advocacy group, normally doesn’t weigh in on FCC commissioners. Yet it is opposing Sohn’s nomination because her “social media, public policy stances and employment history have indicated serious animus towards law enforcement officers and the rule of law.”
As it turns out, Sohn wasn’t content on focusing her Twitter vitriol on Fox hating. She also liked and retweeted posts that got behind the defund-the-police movement during our 2020 “summer of love.”
Sohn says she understands that she must comport herself differently at the FCC, and who knows, maybe Sleepy Joe will twist Manchin’s arm just enough to get him to vote yes. Still, my sources on Capitol Hill say the opposition from the cops could be the final straw. Dems don’t want to be seen supporting anyone who supports the politically toxic defund movement.
That puts the Biden administration in another self-inflicted bind. Sohn is filling an open seat. If the White House ditches her for a moderate, it angers lefties like Senator Elizabeth Warren as well as the party base at a time Dems need every vote. If the White House doesn’t fill the vacancy by summer recess, the FCC will remain deadlocked 2-2 between GOP commissioners and Dems. A possible GOP-majority Senate next year would mean that the open seat might not be filled for the remainder of Biden’s term.
It’s all more proof that Team Biden doesn’t have a clue on how to run things, whether it’s the botched Afghanistan withdrawal, failing to see looming and dangerous (non-transitory) inflation, or a simple regulatory appointment.