Republican lawmakers pushed back against Gigi Sohn on Tuesday by bombarding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) nominee with a barrage of criticisms that even included made-up tweets.
Appearing before the Senate Commerce Committee for her third confirmation hearing, Sohn, who was originally nominated by President Joe Biden in October 2021, was asked to respond to hypothetical statements that she never actually made.
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) proceeded to read a fictitious tweet referring to former President Barack Obama as a “raggedy Black Supremacist” before asking Sohn if she believed anyone who made such a statement should be confirmed to the FCC.
The hypothetical statement made by Vance was purposely crafted to be similar in nature to a tweet previously made by Sohn in which she had criticized former President Donald Trump as a “raggedy White Supremacist.”
Vance also invented a tweet calling Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson an “angry Black woman” and asked if someone who posted that should sit on the FCC. Sohn criticized Justice Brett Kavanaugh as an “angry white man” during his confirmation hearing.
The display was seen by conservatives as an example of Sohn’s divisive political nature, which they have been harping on throughout the hearing.
“JD Vance exposes Biden FCC nominee Gigi Sohn as a partisan, racist clown,” one user triumphantly wrote.
Vance claimed the tweets inflamed racial tensions, liking her posts to a toddler using a gun.
Progressives, however, shot back by arguing that Sohn’s tweet was being taken out of context.
“So, now, when white people are critical of other white people, that means they’re racist?” one Twitter user asked.
Sohn defended herself by noting that the remarks were made as a private citizen and would have no bearing on how she would act as an FCC commissioner.
Similar critiques were made by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who asserted that political donations made by Sohn to Democrats while her nomination was pending proved that her tenure would be controlled by her political bias.
Sohn once again argued that the donations, which totaled a little over $1,000, were made as a “citizen who just wanted to participate in the Democratic process.”
According to records, Sohn gave to at least one senator who was considered to be on the fence about her nomination, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
Aside from her back-and-forth with Republicans, Sohn highlighted her history as a longtime consumer advocate as well as her support for reinstating net neutrality.
“The FCC has been without a majority for the entirety of the Biden administration—over two years—at a time when closing the digital divide is front and center,” Sohn said during testimony. “There are too many important issues in front of the commission to lack a full complement of members, including improving the broadband maps, fixing the Universal Service Fund, closing the homework gap, ensuring fair access to broadband, and protecting consumers’ privacy. Americans deserve a full FCC where I could play a critical role in addressing every one of these, but time is of the essence.”
Whether Sohn’s latest appearance will finally help see her nomination go through remains to be seen, although after the 2022 midterms, Democrats theoretically have the votes to push her through the Senate.
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*First Published: Feb 14, 2023, 1:01 pm CST
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.