Seizing The News Business

Editorial
Investor’s Business Daily
6/7/2010

Media: If journalists ever venerated anything, it was the First Amendment shield that blunted efforts to limit their freedom. So why, as the administration contemplates a federal takeover of their business, such thundering silence?

Some journalists have even fetishized the Constitution’s topmost enumerated right, loudly squawking at the slightest chilly comment from a government official. But as Washington attempts an ideological transformation of our economic system, they might want to consider the consequences of their own business falling under government direction.

They now have a glaring opportunity to exercise their empathetic powers. Over the past few months the Federal Trade Commission, unbidden, has prepared a “staff discussion draft” of “potential policy recommendations to support the reinvention of journalism.” This may surprise those who were taught, in the pre-Hope and Change Era, that the Bill of Rights meant what it said and that the FTC was created to assure a competitive economy.

Of the latter mission, the commission, which polices antitrust laws, reserves unto itself the power to grant antitrust exemptions. This, apparently, is pretext enough to float the idea of granting such protections to publishers so they might, in the words of media blogger Jeff Jarvis, “collude on pricing to consumers and business partners.”

That’s pretty enticing for newspaper publishers, many of whose ships were sinking even before the onset of the financial crisis — and who, even if it means throwing the First Amendment overboard, may grasp desperately for any lifeline thrown their way.

The article continues at IBD.

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