The Smear Campaign Against FCC Nominee Gigi Sohn – A Letter To The Senate Commerce Committee

Preston Padden

Boulder Thinking, LLC

2389 Indian Peaks Trail

Lafayette, CO 80026

January 30, 2023

Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation

Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, D.C. 20510-0411

Via E-Mail to Committee Staff

Chair Cantwell, Ranking Member Cruz and Members of the Committee:

I respectfully request that this letter be included in the record of the hearing that will be held on the nomination of Gigi Sohn to be a Commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.  Ms. Sohn’s politics are to the left of mine, but she is a superbly qualified and experienced nominee who should be confirmed as soon as possible.

I have the greatest respect for this Committee and its Members before whom I have testified many times as President of the ABC Television Network, a founding executive of the Fox Broadcasting Company and as the head of Government Relations for both News Corporation/Fox (Murdoch) and The Walt Disney Company.  I fear that this esteemed Committee, like Ms. Sohn, is in danger of falling victim to the worst, and most cynical and baseless smear campaign ever waged against a nominee to serve on the FCC.  Ms. Sohn’s only sin is that she roots for the underdog and for consumers.  As a result, some of the dominant Cable TV companies and Internet Service Providers have stooped to lows never before seen to smear Ms. Sohn.  They correctly fear that she would be a vote to require them to compete fairly and to respect consumers.

Ms. Sohn’s opponents have planted article after article alleging that she is against Native Americans, against Hispanics, against rural communities, against police and that she is connected with illicit sex workers.  It’s all rubbish!  A total of 375 organizations, companies, elected officials and local governments, including numerous Tribes, Hispanic organizations and public safety officials have voiced their support for Ms. Sohn’s nomination!

The press stories ginned up by Ms. Sohn’s opponents are beneath scurrilous and are beneath the dignity of this Committee.  For example, one Daily Mail online story (not a Murdoch publication) began with a picture of Ms. Sohn juxtaposed next to a salacious picture of a sex worker with whom Ms. Sohn has absolutely no connection.  This is “Tabloid Trash” at its worst, all brought to you, I believe, by agents of some of the country’s biggest Cable Companies and ISP’s.

I worked for Rupert Murdoch for seven years and secured for him waivers of FCC Rules that stood in the way of the launch of Fox Broadcasting Company – the long sought fourth free-over-the-air TV Network.  Recently Mr. Murdoch sent me a note that expressed misgivings about Ms. Sohn’s nomination.  I replied by reminding him (actually, he may never have known) that because Ms. Sohn fights for underdogs (which Fox certainly was in its early days), and because she saw the pro-consumer benefits of a fourth network, she was very helpful to our efforts to fend off fierce lobbying attacks from the three established networks and to secure the waivers that we needed.  And I advised him that Ms. Sohn’s interest in requiring dominant Cable and ISP “pipe” companies to play fairly could be helpful to a company like his that has important content assets, but no bottleneck “pipes”.  Mr. Murdoch responded that he stood corrected in his view of Ms. Sohn.

Respectfully Submitted,

Preston Padden

Boulder Thinking, LLC

2389 Indian Peaks Trail

Lafayette, CO 80026


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