Will Sohn Rise To FCC Seat? An Answer Comes Thursday


Mark 10am on Thursday, March 3, on your calendar. That’s when the Senate Commerce Committee, chaired by State of Washington Democrat Maria Cantwell, will convene an executive session that puts to vote the presidential nominations of nine individuals.

Among them: Gigi B. Sohn, the controversial selection by the Biden administration to fill the fifth Commissioner’s seat at the FCC.

A vote on Sohn’s nomination is third of the nine on the agenda, with the first vote for Arun Venkataraman, to be Assistant Secretary of Commerce and Director General of the United States and Foreign Commercial Service.

Other votes are for nominees to serve in roles at the Department of Transportation, Department of Commerce, and the CPSC. Also up for a vote: the nomination of Alvaro Bedoya to be a Federal Trade Commission Commissioner.

As of today, Sohn’s nomination remains highly contentious. And, her path to the FCC could come down to Sen. Ben Ray Luján, who is recovering from a stroke. The New Mexico Democrat is said to be the deciding vote, one that would seat Sohn.

Then, there’s chatter Inside the Beltway that Ranking Member Roger Wicker and other Republicans, likely to include Ted Cruz, would “boycott” a vote on Sohn based on how she answered their follow-up questions. Republicans are extremely concerned about Sohn’s ties to now-shuttered “OTA via IP” television service Locast, and of her tweets that called Fox News a form of state-sponsored propaganda during the Trump administration.

Sohn is also a supporter of “net neutrality,” fueling concerns among Democrats that the GOP is “blocking” Sohn, despite Wicker’s testimony at a second nomination hearing that this was not the case.

While the opposition to Sohn is vocal, she does have an ally in Christopher Ruddy, as the head of conservative cable TV news operation Newsmax has come out in support of Sohn for her commitment to diversity, something Newsmax can benefit from as it further seeks to grow against established news and political opinion-focused cable giant FOX News.