250 Groups Urge Senate To Stop Being Corrupt Jackasses and Finally Confirm FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn
from the the-best-policymaking-money-can-buy dept
We’ve noted several times how telecom and media giants are running a sleazy smear campaign against Biden FCC nominee Gigi Sohn, in the hopes of keeping the agency in perpetual consumer protection gridlock. The attacks have been carefully seeded across the US press, and accuse the highly popular and qualified candidate of everything from hating police to being an enemy of rural America.
The attacks are entirely baseless, but they’ve provided just enough flimsy cover for corrupt DC lawmakers (including Joe Manchin and the entirety of the GOP) to justify their opposition to Sohn’s nomination. Of course none of the folks blocking Sohn’s long overdue confirmation vote actually care about policy, they’re just doing what the nation’s biggest telecom and media monopolies tell them to.
Annoyed by what’s been one of the most blatant examples of corruption in telecom policy in decades, more than 250 groups have come together to urge the Senate to get its shit together (see the full letter and group listing here):
“Don’t be fooled by the latest Comcast-funded talking points. The companies lobbying against Gigi Sohn are simply trying to do one thing: keep the FCC deadlocked for as long as possible. Sohn is an exceptionally qualified nominee and it’s well past time to confirm her. We need a fully functioning FCC.”
Every single respected expert in telecom and media policy admires and respects Sohn. There was nothing to directly attack her on, so the industry just… made up a whole bunch of bullshit. And it worked.
Companies like AT&T, Comcast, and News Corporation spent much of the year feeding sleazy attacks to their army of lobbying and policy nonprofits, who in turn then seed those claims in US press reports and editorials. But as the Washington Post notes, the same companies then hired former Democratic and GOP hill staffers to help influence Senators in tight midterm races using those fake attacks:
Comcast this year paid former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle (D) and his firm $30,000 to lobby on the “Status of FCC nominations,” among other issues, according to a July disclosure filing. Sohn is the only pending nomination for the commission. The company in January also tapped a former state lawmaker who served alongside Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), widely seen as a crucial swing vote on the Sohn nomination, to lobby on FCC nominations.
…Comcast also retained Larry Puccio, the former top aide to Sen. Joe Manchin III, another critical Democrat to lobby on telecommunications issues, though it did not mention nominations.
For four years under the Trump Administration the telecom industry got pretty much everything it could have ever wanted. The mindless rubber stamping of merger proposals without regulators even reading them. The lobotomization of the FCC’s consumer protection authority. The elimination of consumer protections, net neutrality, privacy, and media consolidation rules. Big fat tax breaks for doing nothing.
Now, they’re engaged in an all out attack on DC to ensure the FCC remains without a voting majority to fix any of it, in stark contrast to the will of the actual public. And, by any measure, it’s all been a smashing success because, if you hadn’t noticed by now, the U.S. Congress is grotesquely and comically corrupt. For six straight years now the FCC has been rendered feckless by this corruption, an incredible feat.
Because the entirety of DC policy circles are exclusively obsessed with issues related to “Big Tech,” Big Telecom has managed to enjoy this entire clown show while flying mostly under the radar.
There’s still a chance that Sohn is confirmed during the lame duck session by Senators who were previously feeling too vulnerable due to tight midterm races. But if she isn’t, it seems extremely likely that Sohn is replaced in the new year by a far more industry-cozy candidate who won’t rock the boat on issues like media consolidation, monopolization, and limited broadband competition.
And the tech sector, public, and press can spend another decade wondering why the heavily monopolized and consolidated US media and telecom sectors are such monumental, uncompetitive trash fires.