Gov giveth and gov taketh away

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.

  • I am not saying that government help is good or not for media. But, I am just reacting on the freedom of speech aspect. For example, we have financial aid in France for media, where I was living six years ago before moving to the US. It is a complexe system of direct and indirect financial aid such as providing cheaper postal rates for magazines and newspapersÖ
    I do not see any evidence that it affects the freedom of speech. It is even the opposite. Without the financial aid some newspapers would not exist. And when I say someÖ I am being nice.

  • Ray_G

    I suggest (4): the 1st ammendment protects freedom of the press, it does NOT require the government to buy you a press.