The failure of Joe Biden’s Build Back Better legislative agenda on account of Joe Manchin’s doubts proves that, even though they control neither house of Congress, Republicans can still win victories against President Biden’s agenda. Not every Democratic senator is maximally left-wing, and if Republicans can pick the right battles, they can delay and even prevent the worst excesses of a far-left administration.
One of those worthy battles should be taking place right now. Very soon, the Senate will vote on whether to confirm Gigi Sohn, Joe Biden’s nominee to fill the decisive fifth spot on the Federal Communications Commission. And with a 50-50 split in the Senate, that confirmation is only a sure thing if Republicans decide to take it easy. They shouldn’t. Gigi Sohn is a dangerous extremist whom Republicans should fight ferociously to keep away from any sort of regulatory power.
By tradition, the chairman of the FCC steps down when the presidency switches parties, so that that the new president can choose a replacement. In October, after an unusually-lengthy 10-month delay, Biden elevated sitting commissioner Jennifer Rosenworcel to be FCC chairwoman, and chose Gigi Sohn to fill the vacant fifth seat.
Sohn, a longtime telecom lawyer and activist, is an alumnus of the far-left Ford Foundation and a fellow with the Open Society Foundations, the grantmaking network funded by George Soros. For those of you living under a rock, Soros is best known as the billionaire paying to make every American city into a criminal disaster area.
Like most power centers in Washington, the FCC’s power grows more with each passing year. When it was created 88 years ago, the FCC existed to govern radio and telephone services. Today, its domains have expended to include television, the Internet, and the content carried on each. Much like in the federal courts, the FCC’s authority has grown thanks to paralysis in Congress. In past decades, major debates over telecom policy could be hashed out in the legislature. Today, though, with Congress more or less permanently paralyzed, the FCC is now the venue for adjudicating questions like Internet censorship, thanks to its power to interpret regulations like Section 230 that Congress passed decades ago and now lacks the unity or initiative to ever update.
Under President Trump, the FCC was the hoped-for venue for rolling back Big Tech’s censorship regime and overall power. Under President Biden, the FCC matters for the same reason, in the opposite direction. If Gigi Sohn is confirmed, it could quickly pave the way for political censorship run directly by the FCC, while taxpayer dollars flow directly to Sohn’s old friends in the activist world.
Gigi Sohn's Career Has Been Defined By Her Drive To Censor Conservative Speech
Sohn has also been a regular collaborator and key ally of radical groups like Fight for the Future, which has a disgraceful history of harassing, threatening, and intimidating public officials. pic.twitter.com/RRR9gjJPwg
— The Columbia Bugle ?? (@ColumbiaBugle) January 11, 2022
The stakes are high. Last Thursday didn’t just mark the anniversary of the Capitol “insurrection.” It also marked the anniversary of the largest left-wing offensive against free speech and free association in decades. Big Tech deplatformed a US president and thousands of his followers, and has continued to do so at will ever since. There was a serious push to shut down dissident TV channels such as OAN for ideological reasons. In the years to come, the FCC has the power to contain this push for censorship and control, and the power to egg it on if it so chooses. Under an FCC with Sohn on it, the latter is far more likely.
Some realism is in order. Joe Biden is president, so the FCC won’t be getting a Republican majority, and Republicans are in no position to demand someone who agrees on every issue. But Sohn has made it explicit that she doesn’t simply disagree with Republicans on issues. She regards them as a borderline-criminal ideological enemy that should be extinguished.
Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that Sohn co-founded and ran for its first decade of existence, called for OAN to be deplatformed after January 6. Sohn herself endorsed a congressional inquisition over OAN, which doubled as a far-left effort to use the threat of government retaliation to pressure cable companies to drop conservative channels. In 2018, she called on the FCC to look into revoking the broadcast license for the Sinclair Broadcast Group, explicitly because of the company’s politics.
— Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) August 9, 2018
This, and its lack of candor during the failed merger with Tribune, calls into question Sinclair’s fitness to be a broadcast licensee. Will @FCC do anything when Sinclair’s licenses are up for renewal? https://t.co/EPNExBfXS0
— Gigi Sohn (@gigibsohn) October 21, 2018
Sohn also sits on the board of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. During the 2020 “mostly peaceful” riots across America, the EFF published guides for rioters, putting out advice on how to avoid having one’s phone searched by police, or how to evade detection by facial recognition technology.
Then, there is Sohn’s long association with Fight for the Future, a left-wing activist group, and its radical transgender leader Evan Greer. Sohn appeared on Greer’s podcast in 2019 and the two are, more broadly, quite friendly.
My official statement is: FUCKING FINALLY https://t.co/lBXBB7zKT1
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) October 26, 2021
Greer is an anarchist who worked for three years to free a convicted al-Qaeda terrorist sent to prison for planning to shoot up a Boston shopping mall. In 2016, Greer made a Facebook post celebrating cop killer Assata Shakur.
In 2014, while working as an employee for then-FCC commissioner Tom Wheeler, Sohn gave preferential treatment to left-wing groups trying to sway the FCC, and even showed up to support protests against her own Obama-appointed boss.
Left-wing FCC protesters are some of the most vicious this side of a mostly-peaceful rally in Minneapolis. During the Trump years, Greer organized a protest campaign against FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai that evolved into some of the most vicious harassment ever seen by a federal bureaucrat, tormenting Pai and his family at his home for his position on various telecom issues. Commentary described the torments Pai faced at the time.
[C]omments were peppered with claims that Pai was a pedophile, a “dirty, sneaky Indian” who should self-deport, and reminders that anonymous online hordes maintain the “power to murder Ajit Pai and his family.” …
This episode would prove to be just the beginning of Pai’s ordeal. By May of last year, Pai’s tormentors began a campaign to ensure that the FCC chairman could enjoy no peace—not even in his own home. “Resistance” groups began distributing fliers and door hangers around Pai’s Arlington, Virginia neighborhood, featuring a black-and-white photo of Pai with his vital stats (height, weight, age, and professional background) and accusing him of selling the Internet out to corporations. “Have you seen this man?” the fliers read.
These demonstrators didn’t stop there. They began organizing “vigils” in Pai’s driveway—a tactic that net neutrality activists deployed in 2014 against then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. They “come up to our front windows and take photographs of the inside of the house,” Pai told the Wall Street Journal. “My kids are 5 and 3. It’s not pleasant.” [Commentary]
If Sohn is confirmed, the current 2-2 tie in the FCC’s partisan makeup will become a 3-2 Democratic majority. But more importantly, the radical left-wing, on tech and telecom issues, will have a firm ally on the FCC. Sohn will be positioned to empower (perhaps even bankroll) her old allies, and the FCC will take a giant step in the direction of regulating, censoring, or shutting down conservative voices online, on the radio, and on television.
Republicans ignore this danger at their peril. Sohn’s nomination should be opposed with all possible force, or they have only themselves to blame when Big Tech sends the rest of their accounts to the ban pile.