Chip Pickering to Newsmax: Gigi Sohn ‘Champion’ for All Voices on FCC

Chip Pickering to Newsmax: Gigi Sohn 'Champion' for All Voices on FCC (Newsmax/"John Bachman Now")

By Eric Mack | Monday, 04 April 2022 01:35 PM

Gigi Sohn's nomination for the open Democrat seat on the Federal Communications Commission has taken five months this far — deadlocked in the Senate Commerce Committee — but conservatives should back her, former Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss., told Newsmax.

"If you're trying to enter, have a new voice, in the communications competition market, she is not going to be partisan in that," Pickering told Thursday's "John Bachman Now." "She's very principled that everyone has a right to have a voice — this protected right of the First Amendment."

Both Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy and One American News have supported Sohn for the FCC, Pickering noted, amid Sohn's difficulty to get confirmed by the Senate because it would give Democrats a 3-2 edge on the commission.

"They've worked with her, just as I have, and they know that they've defended their rights to enter the market — much like Newsmax is a disruptive, entrepreneurial new entrant into broadcast media," Pickering told co-hosts John Bachman and Bianca de la Garza.

"And Gigi is the best champion for that. Whether you're conservative or liberal, she's going to be your champion."

While Big Tech and social media companies have worked to reduce conservative voices in support of liberal messaging, Pickering says Sohn will be a champion of the new, underrepresented voices.

"Gigi will be a voice for competition in broadband networks; she'll be a voice to make sure that those are trying to stream, that are trying to have their voice heard, has an equal and fair opportunity — without discrimination, without censorship — to be able to speak, to broadcast, to stream in a way that brings every voice to the conversation and the very important conversations that our country is having on every different issue that our nation faces," Pickering continued.

"The principles of competition, First Amendment, and freedom of speech are something, I know personally, Gigi will be a great advocate and a great champion for those principles."

The current powerful forces in broadband and streaming, telecommunications giants (telcos) AT&T and Comcast, are not only biased against conservatives, but they are using their influence to keep competition from entering the marketplace, Pickering warned.

"Our policies in both media and broadband competition is really one that is not a partisan issue," he said. "I think this is mainstream media — incumbent telcos like AT&T, incumbent cable like Comcast — trying to prevent new entrants and new competitors into the marketplace.

"And that really is about competition, not partisanship."

Sohn will bring "dogged" determination and a voice to new technology against the heavily funded giants, Pickering added.

"Over the last two years our country subsidized those incumbent telcos about $50 billion, and they failed to use that to build new broadband and networks in rural America, critical for our rural schools, healthcare, jobs, business — all the connectivity that rural America needs so desperately," he said.

"If Gigi comes, she will be dogged as a champion to make sure that the broadband subsidies that are now pouring through the Commerce Department and through the FCC to achieve this new commitment, this new broadband connectivity commitment.

"Those small companies building the new broadband networks support Gigi. It's why Newsmax and One America News in the media context are supporting Gigi. She is a champion for competition, for the new entrant, for the new technology. And the incumbents in all those other sectors have failed to deliver on what the country needs, and it's critical right now."

The new funding in President Joe Biden's infrastructure bill pumps money into the industry and Pickering said Sohn can help in aiding the proper priorities as the United States seeks to compete on the world stage.

"We're in a race with China who can build the 5G network of the future the fastest and who can adopt the applications to precision in agriculture, telemedicine, artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles — those things that will drive the economy of the future and our national security of the future," Pickering said. We have to build quickly.

"And Gigi is someone who will make sure it gets done as fast as possible."

While Sohn will be a Democrat voice, Pickering stresses she will be one that conservatives will have a voice with.

"It comes from many years of working with Gigi; I've been on both sides of the table," he said. "She's very practical, pragmatic. She's a good listener. She does her homework. She does her research. She's solution-based.

"Although I may not agree with Gigi on many of her political views, her job she's nominated for is to bring broadband to every American in every part and every place, every community, small town, rural America to urban America.

"And I can't think of a more dogged, determined, fighter who could be more experienced or more effective in bringing about the national goal and the national commitment that we've just adopted coming out of the pandemic through the bipartisan infrastructure bill: That is we're going to deploy broadband to every American, connect every American."

Sohn's nomination vote in the Senate Commerce Committee tied 14-14 in March, meaning Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., will need to issue a discharge petition to bring her vote to the full Senate. Sohn will not only need 50 votes and Vice President Kamala Harris' tiebreaking vote to pass the discharge, but she will need the same in a confirmation vote — potentially in the next couple of weeks.

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