OANN Owner Says Network Doesn't Support Biden FCC Pick

Robert Herring slams son's endorsement of 'extreme leftist' Gigi Sohn

Gigi Sohn / Getty Images
December 7, 2021

One America News Network's owner on Tuesday slammed President Joe Biden's latest pick to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, weeks after his son, the network's president, threw his weight behind the progressive nominee.

Speaking to OANN host Pearson Sharp, Robert Herring denied that the conservative network supports Gigi Sohn, a lawyer with a history of opposing Fox News. Herring's son Charles last month published a letter on the OANN website that endorsed Sohn's confirmation.

"My son's out there saying we support her, but she shouldn't be anywhere near the FCC as far as I'm concerned," Herring said, adding explicitly that "the company itself is not supporting her." Sharp called Sohn "one of the most extreme leftists anywhere in Washington" and "a Marxist who has absolutely no regard for free speech or the Constitution."

The Washington Free Beacon reported that Charles Herring lobbied Republican senators to support Sohn's nomination and booked political operative Bradley Blakeman to appear on OANN to tout Sohn's credentials. OANN and fellow right-wing TV network Newsmax both endorsed Sohn, hoping she would support them in fights against larger carriers. In her confirmation hearing last week, Sohn twice brought up OANN's support for her as evidence that she is not biased against conservatives.

The family dispute adds more controversy to an already fraught nomination process. Sohn faces conservative opposition for her comments calling Fox News a threat to democracy and endorsing investigations into the company. A nonprofit Sohn founded, Public Knowledge, also called for OANN to be taken off the airwaves.

It is unclear whether Sohn will be confirmed in the closely divided Senate. In an effort to secure Sohn's confirmation, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D., Wash.) has proposed Sohn could recuse herself from certain issues, Fox reported Tuesday.

A source familiar with the situation confirmed the proposal to the Free Beacon and said Sohn was considering recusing herself from issues regarding broadcast companies. The source said both Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and the White House have expressed concerns over a possible recusal deal, which would leave FCC commissioners evenly divided on hot-button regulatory issues.

Update 9:03 p.m.: This piece has been updated to reflect that Pearson Sharp, not Robert Herring, called Gigi Sohn "one of the most extreme leftists anywhere in Washington" and "a Marxist who has absolutely no regard for free speech or the Constitution."