Republicans on Wednesday slammed President Joe Biden's latest nominee to the Federal Communications Commission for her history of attacking right-wing speech.
Members of the Senate Commerce Committee tore into Gigi Sohn for what Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) called "a history of antipathy toward conservative views." Sohn has called for the shuttering of right-wing networks repeatedly throughout her career and advocated for increased federal oversight of right-wing broadcasters. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R., Alaska) said these views "completely disqualify" Sohn from public office.
Sohn, who Biden tapped to serve on the FCC last month, has gained unlikely allies in her nomination fight. Conservative stations Newsmax and One America News Network have both endorsed Sohn, who they believe will give them a competitive advantage over Fox News. Sohn has a history of opposing Fox, which she has called a danger to democracy. Sohn twice called attention to the two endorsements in her testimony, suggesting they are evidence she is not biased against conservatives.
Sohn struggled to answer Sullivan's question about her claim that Fox is "state-sponsored propaganda."
"I understand my tweets are concerning to some," Sohn said in the hearing, arguing it was "part of her job" as a public interest advocate to attack Fox. She said her opinions as an activist would have "no bearing" on her behavior in office. Sohn said her tweets were not evidence of bias and said her academic writings were "just academic" and would not have a bearing on her performance as a commissioner.
If confirmed, Sohn would give Democrats a 3-2 majority on the FCC. She has called for expanding the FCC's authority to investigate and regulate conservative television networks. Conservatives fear Sohn would use the FCC's regulatory power over broadcast licenses to punish right-wing media outlets.
Sohn's nomination came shortly after the Senate Commerce Committee confirmed Jessica Rosenworcel to an open FCC spot. Rosenworcel is widely seen as a more moderate pick, but conservatives worry Sohn would pull the commission toward censorship.
Sohn's allies argue she would be a supporter of small right-wing outlets. An executive at Public Knowledge, a nonprofit Sohn founded, said Sohn "pushed for carriage rules that would get channels like Newsmax and OANN on Comcast." Public Knowledge has called for OANN to be removed from television. Another close Sohn ally called the United States a "racist ass shithole country" in November.