The nomination of former FCC aid and Georgetown Law Fellow Gigi Sohn to the position of FCC commissioner was history-making, as Sohn would be the first openly LGBTQ individual to serve as a commissioner. Conservative opposition to President Biden’s nominees has resulted in extended nomination timelines, and Sohn’s nomination process has managed to carry on for over five times longer than the typical timeline for other Biden-appointed FCC nominees. Sohn’s nomination was forced to be withdrawn and resubmitted due to obstruction in Congress, forcing her to attend two separate committee hearings where she faced significant Republican opposition. As of July 2022, her nomination remains pending before the Senate.

During Sohn’s previous stint at the FCC, she helped advocate for net neutrality rules, which were backed by a large grassroots campaign of internet advocates. Sohn herself is a longtime advocate for an open internet, having founded a policy group, Public Knowledge, in the early 2000s. Her reputation made her a target for the broadband and cable industry, as they feared her confirmation would cut into their profits and stock price.

The main line of attacks levied against Sohn originated from the media empire of Rupert Murdock and from broadband trade associations. The Wall Street Journal editorial board, The New York Post’s opinion page, and Fox News attacked Sohn for previous statements and painted her as an unqualified partisan who seeks to censor conservative speech. Conservative outlets also attacked her for her support of broadband regulation and net neutrality. Her reputation as a partisan was core to the main line of attack levied at Sohn by Republican Senators during her first confirmation hearing.

Broadband and cable industry association group The National Association of Broadcasters criticized Sohn for her involvement with a nonprofit streaming service Locast that they viewed as copyright infringement. The broadband industry and conservative media also pressured Sohn to pledge she would recuse herself on some matters that they believed would be a conflict due to her work at a nonprofit she founded called Public Knowledge. These calls for recusal dominated Sohn’s second confirmation hearing.

Another notable group with connections to industry agitating against Sohn was the 501(c)(4) group One Country. Founded by two former Democratic Senators, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp, the group launched an ad campaign targeting the states of Sens. Manchin and Sinema arguing Sohn opposes rural broadband due to her support for industry regulation. One Country is tied to the telecom and broadband industry via a close relationship with lobbying firm Forbes Tate, which has represented numerous industry groups and companies.

Until Sohn is confirmed, the FCC sits in gridlock with 2 Democratic nominees and 2 Republican nominees, preventing the board form voting on crucial policy decisions. In Sohn’s own words: “I think there are certain very large companies that would like the FCC continue to be deadlocked. It’s no secret.”

Nomination Timeline


Initial Media Reaction


Right-Wing Attacks on Sohn


Right-Wing Funding


Attacks Against Sohn During Hearings


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