Gov giveth and gov taketh away
: Continuing the day at the Annenberg event, Tim Cook, an impressive LSU professor, made a case for government helping media. He was supposed to be provocative and I was predictably provoked. I said I’m not a libertarian but I’d sound like one as I shared the lessons Susan Crawford has taught me, that asking for government help in one cause only invites government interference in another, whether in spam or indecency or freedom of speech and the press. Various ideas were raised by respondents that made my spine shake: taxing ads to support publications with fewer ads, giving postal subsidies only to publications below a circulation threshold, government search engines. Arrrgh. Oh, plenty of ticklish issues are raised — shield laws, spectrum regulation… — but I suggested three principles:
1. Journalists are citizens and citizens are journalists and deserve the same rights under the constitution.
2. The press is supposed to distrust, or at least watch and be skeptical about, the government, and so it must not set itself up in a position to be beholden to government.
3. We should invite no compromise to the protection of the First Amendment Congress shall make no law.