Socrates' criticism of the Sophists stemmed from the fact that these orators used memory and emotion to influence what people believed to be the truth instead of using reasoning. This group of men challenged ideas and traditions without finding the best answers for how to improve, change or fix the issues that they brought up. The Sophists were paid for their skills in speech and did not care what the outcome of their words was as long as they won the debate or lawsuit they were speaking about.
The Sophists were also criticized by other philosophers who disapproved of the fact that these speakers were not true believers. They could quote any epic tale or poem to provide an example of how the gods handled similar situations, but they did not have any faith in the gods. They were mainly atheists whose main goal was winning contests and lawsuits to charge the highest tuition to those they taught. Socrates debated these people often and was fairly successful. He was more interested in ethical views and how to use those types of views to prove the truth of a matter. The Sophists were very much a group that felt might made right, but Socrates did not hold with this since it was often an unethical point of view.