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WASHINGTON — On Monday, three leading media-justice and civil-rights groups called on Senate leadership to condemn the antisemitic, homophobic and racist campaign against Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn and confirm her to the federal agency before the close of the 117th Congress.

“We are deeply concerned that antisemitic, homophobic and racist smears against Ms. Sohn have contributed to the inaction of the Senate on her confirmation,” wrote Color Of Change, Free Press Action and MediaJustice in a letter sent to Democratic and Republican Senate leaders. “These attacks, which reflect a nationwide rise in antisemitism and backlash against progress made by Black people, women and LGBTQIA+ people, provide an ugly backdrop for industry efforts to maintain a 2-2 tie at the Commission.” 

The letter documents a number of discriminatory attacks against Sohn, who is Jewish and would be the first agency commissioner who’s openly a member of the LGBTQIA+ community. 

President Biden nominated Sohn in October of 2021, but her confirmation has been repeatedly delayed as deep-pocketed phone, cable and broadcast industry lobbyists have orchestrated underhanded and dishonest attacks against the nominee, seeking to derail the agency that oversees their businesses. No other nominee in the FCC’s history has had to wait so long for a confirmation vote in the Senate. According to recent reporting by The Washington Post, the industry has bankrolled right-wing and other astroturf groups to place anti-Sohn attack ads that tens of millions of people have viewed. 

“The delay in her confirmation has not been without consequence,” the letter reads. “The failure to confirm Sohn has slowed the agency’s ability to adopt policies to close the digital divide, which disproportionately impacts Black and Brown people’s internet adoption, enforce our nation’s communications law, promote diversity and localism in broadcast ownership and more.”

The entire letter can be read here.

“Our nation’s top communications regulator has been without a full slate of commissioners for the entire Biden administration,” said Free Press Action Internet Campaign Director Heather Franklin. “This record-breaking delay is a disgrace, and it’s harming millions of people — especially working families trying to pay rising monthly bills and those in Black, Indigenous, Latinx and rural communities that the biggest phone and cable companies have long exploited and neglected. Lobbyists and front groups for massive phone, cable and broadcasting companies have been working since the final days of the Trump administration to deadlock the FCC. The Senate must reject antisemitic, homophobic and racist smears against Sohn that have struck an awful undertone for these efforts to hamstring the agency. These never-ending delays are harming millions of people: Senators must confirm Sohn to the FCC before the end of this Congress.”

“Our democracy is weakened when interest groups with deep pockets can stall a presidential nominee,” said MediaJustice Executive Director Steven Renderos. “The Senate is running out of excuses in its failure to confirm Gigi Sohn to the FCC. The issues her leadership could help to solve are far too important, like connecting every American to the quality broadband they need today and into the future.” 

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