Fraternal Order Of Police Helps Boost Telecom Smear Campaign Against FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn

from the grotesque-puppetry dept

We’d already noted how telecom and media giants are engaged in a last ditch attempt over the next few weeks to derail Biden’s nomination to the FCC, Gigi Sohn. Sohn is widely admired by folks on both sides of the aisle, and is eminently qualified on stuff like expanding access to affordable broadband, media consolidation, consumer protection, privacy, and media diversity.

The broad consensus is that Sohn is hugely qualified and fair. But she’s also a real reformer, an anti-monopolist, and a staunch opponent of mindless media consolidation. That’s something AT&T, Verizon, Charter, and Comcast, which were coddled throughout the Trump era, would very much like to avoid.

Since they can’t attack her actual record, telecom and media giants have been engaged in an absolutely grotesque smear campaign involving getting various groups to falsely accuse Sohn of disliking minorities, hating rural America, or trying to censor conservatives. With the entire GOP in loyal lockstep (as is usually the case), telecom’s now focused on flipping the votes of Senators Mark Kelly of Arizona, Catherine Cortez Mastro of Nevada, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia to kill Sohn’s nomination dead.

Joining that campaign is the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP). For the last six months, FOP has been spewing all manner of gibberish complaints about Sohn, including the idea that her nomination should be opposed because she (gasp) supports encryption. I’d wager much of this being coordinated by AT&T, which has a long history with precisely this kind of greasy shit and has an existing partnership with FOP.

Now the FOP has come out with a push poll, whose function is to accuse Sohn of hating the police. Basically, the FOP’s not-at-all-scientific poll found that if you tell people who had no idea who Sohn is that she is “anti-police,” they’ll be less likely to support Sohn:

Of course Sohn isn’t “anti-police” and doesn’t actually support “defunding the police.” Like many, she has supported police reform (itself not at all a radical or unpopular position), such as offloading some more sensitive social and mental health outreach to social workers. The FOP’s “research” into what tweets Sohn liked on this front is about as flimsy and performative as it comes.

Granted it didn’t take long for the bunk claim that Sohn is “anti-police” to be circulated by right wing gibberish merchants like Phil Kerpen (he played a role in those fake comments supporting the telecom industry attack on net neutrality), who thought the FOP’s completely unscientific findings were “interesting”:

Again, telecom and media giants don’t oppose Sohn because she likes tweets advocating for police reform (which itself isn’t disqualifying anyway). They oppose Sohn because she actively wants to tackle the vast harms created by things like telecom monopolization, limited broadband competition, privacy abuses, mindless media consolidation, and other issues in the telecom space.

Sohn’s genuinely popular across both sides of the aisle and her record is stellar. Since they can’t attack her on the merits, telecom is using proxy organizations to spread harmful gibberish in a bid to either flip or provide flimsy justification for the votes of Senators Kelly, Cortez Mastro, or Manchin.

It’s a grotesque campaign, but it’s how DC works. And when the press can be bothered to stop talking about Elon Musk long enough to cover the story, they cover it with headlines like this one, that amplify the false claims, and at no point make it clear this is all manufactured controversy:

I’ve been watching these kinds of bad faith “astroturf” campaigns from telecom (which of course are common in most other industries) for decades, and the press, public, and policymakers never seem to get any more savvy at identifying or combating them.

The Biden team isn’t faultless here either. It took the Biden administration nine months to even nominate Sohn, giving the telecom industry (frightened by the rush promotion of Lina Khan at the FTC) ample time to galvanize opposition. Team Biden also hasn’t done anything to defend Sohn publicly, or apply any meaningful pressure on the Senate confirmation voting process. Nor have Sohn’s future FCC colleagues voiced any public support, despite the shamelessness of the attacks.

Which, in turn, is fairly reflective of how the federal government doesn’t really take stuff like telecom monopolization and telecom consolidation seriously, especially in an era where “big tech” has sucked all the oxygen out of the DC policy room. And again, this is all occurring in an era when DC pretends to be interested in “bipartisan antitrust reform,” revealing the hollowness of the gambit.

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Comments on “Fraternal Order Of Police Helps Boost Telecom Smear Campaign Against FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn”

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Ed (profile) says:

The first step

AT&T needs to be broken up again. “Ma Bell” is far worse than they were back before the first imposed break up. And FOP? While I am generally favorable to unions, the police unions in this country have become just shy of terrorist organizations. Some serious sanctions and actions against these terrorist organizations should be paramount.

Anonymous Coward says:


AT&T needs to be broken up again.

How does replacing one large monopoly with multiple smaller ones help? The lobbying power will not change much, as it can be conducted via trade association, and the smaller parts will reassemble themselves into a new giant.

The root cause of US telecom’s failure is a regulatory failure, and that is due to the highly politicized nature of US regulatory authorities, as demonstrated by this fight.

This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it.

Rocky says:

Re: Re:

It’s amazing that you think that your son’s experiences define how every other cop behaves. By that metric, let me pick someone who was innocent but killed by a cop and put the argument to you that everyone who was killed by a cop was an innocent victim of cop murder. Fair is fair, right?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3

I mean, he technically always had one. That hasn’t stopped him from making unlogged posts and signing them off as davec, in literally the same article discussion thread.

Personally, I see very little reason to distinguish between davec’s brand of bullshit regardless of whether he signs in or not.

Anonymous Coward says:

They will throw any negative slur at her there’s big donations going to Politicans who will support att and Comcast monopolys and high prices lack of competition in telecom services . This nomination is important for those who wish for better service for consumers especially in areas where broadband services are expensive or non existant

ECA (profile) says:


What would happen if we HIRED the best people for a job in Congress?

And on top of that, how many Citizens understand that WE can demand they change laws to satisfy US? As it should be.

AND FOP, has never Ever asked All police officers What they want. Its a Tiered system, where those above you have opinions, but those below DONT. The only ones they ever Telk to are those Near the top.

And for some odd reasoning, the gov. has never Looked/asked/gotten those that have Knowledge of the System/area of expertise/?? That are NOT corporate owned GOONS, in the past 40 years.

ECA (profile) says:

Thought about..

Awhile back I had this great idea.
LEts take the top Processors of Food in the Pac. NW. and Double my price from buying Directly, and OPEN store fronts all over this area. I would be < 1/2 the price of the Stores.

But you already know what would happen. Local stores would Blackball me from Purchasing from the Distributors. They would lower their prices to be competitive. Get the State Agencies to INSPECT the hell out of me(more then they do for Other store chains) and try to Run me out of business.
Iv seen this happen more then 1 time.
There is do Much Graft flying around this country, it PAYS to be in the middle of it. You wonder about a Common policeman, being able to BUY a house worth over $1,000,000 in 5 years. But no one can figure out HOW?
And the Funny part(not really) is that WE are paying for all of it with Over priced Products and goods.

Food prices are the LAST thing that goes up in price. But there are other tricks in this also. Less product in a bigger box?(love potato chips, 1/2 full bags are not great in shipping). Its always amazed me that the Major Pop/soda corps have almost 2 times the price of generics. There really isnt a good reason, as the Soda inside and processing handling adds up to about $0.30 per bottle. State Love Cigarettes, Manufacturer cost is around $0.50-0.60, and All the rest is TAXES. And as People Quit, and the STATE loves that extra money, the price goes up MORE.(cali. is Blocking flavored cigs, and Menthol’s.)

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