Creating the American Pravda

It is a beautiful day here, so I really don't have the time or desire right now to summarize the absolute mess that is the FTC discussion draft for the "reinvention of journalism," reinvention being a synonym apparently for government takeover.  Almost every proposal is fraught with unintended (or perhaps intended but hidden) consequences, faulty economics, and unprecedented attacks of the first amendment.  If you don't have the time to read it, I will try to summarize it next week, but just open it and scroll the bold headers with the proposals.  Its really outrageous.  Here are just some quick highlights:

  • Substantial narrowing of fair use, with particular focus on how search engines and other online sites (e.g. blogs) use and/or have to pay for access to news sites
  • Expansion of news copyrights on breaking news - ie certain papers will own the copyrights to certain news events if they are the first mover on it
  • Increased government funding of news organizations along multiple vectors, from subsidies to guaranteed loans to income tax checkoffs to lower postal rates to Americorps programs for for journalists.
  • Simultaneously reduce private funding of journalism through taxes, including a tax on advertisers
  • Shift the organizational model of journalism from profit corporations (which rely on satisfying individuals to get their revenue) to non-profit organizations dependent on the government for funding
  • New taxes on and licensing of the Internet.   New taxes on broadcast spectrum to subsidize print media (shifting money from media that are more hostile to the administration to print media and non-profits that are more sympathetic to the administration).

Here is the intro that was missing from the report:  "The New York Times and Newsweek can't figure out a profitable business model in the Internet age.  We propose the government step in with all means at its disposal to limit competition to these print media companies and create new government subsidies for their business.  Once their companies' profitability is absolutely dependent on these government mandates and subsidies, the Federal government will have a powerful source of leverage to protect itself from criticism in these outlets.  Once we have this situation in place, we will have a strong inventive to quash more independent outlets and maximize the market share of media companies beholden to the government.  In a large sense, our recommendations build off the success of the tobacco settlement experiment, where a few large companies agreed to pay the government large percentages of their future profits, and then the government worked diligently to quash new tobacco competitors to maximize the market share of those companies paying it settlement money."

Update: South Bend Seven makes an interesting comparison to campus newspapers.


  1. Evil Re Scandi:

    Just more proof of government inefficiency - apparently they don't realize that these sycophants would be willing to do it on their own, for free.

  2. me:

    Oh, my. American journalism has been dead for a decade and now the idea is to subsidize the one-sided meaningless drivel by fencing and rent-providing? Oh, well. It can't possibly get any worse than it is already, n'est-ce pas?

  3. KipEsquire:

    A quick scan of the document reveals zero instances of the term "First Amendment" (except in stray footnote tite references).

  4. John Cheek:

    This administration obviously DOES know what it is doing.This was previously unthinkable.I keep saying that it is unbelieveable,but it IS happening.I hope that you all are registered to vote this fall and get rid of the fascists.JaC

  5. mesaeconoguy:

    If they want to go that way, I’d say the neutrality/fairness standard should also apply to higher education, which would wipe out about 2/3ds of current universities (which should probably happen anyway).

  6. Dr. T:

    This type of crap from a government regulatory agency usually would not present a problem: the idiocies within the proposal would be overruled by the Supreme Court. But, the Supreme Court, with two Obama-appointed justices, now is overwhelmingly biased towards ignoring the enumerated powers sections of the Constitution and giving the federal government sweeping powers. The pre-Obama Supreme Court disregarded the Bill of Rights regarding eminent domain, property confiscation without trials or without being charged with a crime, and restrictions on political speech. A post-Obama Court certainly will allow the FTC to stomp all over the First, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments.

    The irony is that Obama taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. I wonder if he told his students that the Bill of Rights was written to be ignored.

  7. Val:

    What amazes me is that when people actually notice these things, they are amazed. It's not like these guys hid this stuff - their whole lives were spent surrounded by left wing radicals when they weren't being them. They even said things that should have been really scary to the rest of us during the campaign (like funding an americorps like orginization to give it equivalent power to the military) but everyone seemed to either overlook or laugh it off. Maybe both. John Cheek has it right. They know exactly what they are doing.

  8. Henry Bowman:

    Please be aware that it is not just this Administration that thinks that taking over news organizations is a good idea: virtually all the Democrat leadership in both the House and the Senate thinks it's a good idea. These folks absolutely loathe the idea that others might be able to publish opinions that differ from theirs. The regular demonization of Fox News by these folks should tell you all you need to know: they are itching for a way to kill off other opinions.

  9. drank:

    The MSM coverage of the Federal Government is already more-or-less equivalent to the Ministry Of Truth. Ask yourself - what percentage of stories about the Feds exist only because (often undisclosed) government sources chose to feed the story to the reporter for reasons of their own, or because the reporter is trying to gain or preserve access to such sources?

    From a certain point of view, it's helpful that the government wants to label Official Truth so clearly. It makes it all the easier for people to ignore it in favor of more useful sources of information.

  10. jimmy choo:

    American journalism has been dead for a decade and now the idea is to subsidize the one-sided meaningless drivel by fencing and rent-providing?

  11. Scott:

    I just can't wait for all the stories expounding on the glorious success of the failed AIG, GM, fanny mae, and freddy mac corporations.

    Hell they already are.

    We are in deep shit.