Editorial: Newspaper Bail out Will End Freedom of the Press.
The Fox News-White House battle is a prime example of what the future holds, should the Federal Government bail out the news industry.
Once a news organization receives a bail out, consider it "owned" by the government. At that point, the government is free to dictate what can and cannot be reported. To believe that it would not happen one only has to look to the bail out of the banks, insurance companies, GM and Chrysler.
In the case of the auto bail out, dealerships have been closed, most violating State franchise laws. Hundreds, and including secondary dealer support businesses, perhaps thousands, are out of work as a direct result of the governments intervention. Now, the government is demanding bailed out companies reduce bonuses and banks rethink salaries. The government forced unions to accept concessions. In the long term, government intervention did nothing but gain control of private industry and the banks.
The next step is control of the one thing that keeps The United States free, a free and open press. Without an outlet for free speech, freedom of speech ends.
The guarantee of a free press will be gone, in its place a "News Czar" who will dictate which organizations will be considered news outlets, and which will be simply "entertainment", if they are permitted to exist at all. Woe to anyone who questions the Administration. Prepare to endure attacks now being seen by Fox News. Telling other news organizations not to "follow" Fox News is censorship. Has the White House revoked the press credentials of Fox News? No, that would be too over the top. Instead, the Administration wants to "suggest" other news organizations ignore Fox News.
We do not need or want any government involvement into our free and open press. This is about Fox News today but it affects every single news outlet, print, radio and television, blogger and professional journalist. It affects Rush Limbaugh and Randi Rhodes equally. Liberal, Conservative, Independent, Progressive. No one is exempt.
The current Administration will be gone in three, or seven years. No matter who controls the White House, changes made today will live on. Smugness now can turn to horror later, when those that support a bail out now find themselves the target of an Administration different than the one they touted.
If an individual disagrees with the content of a tv or radio news network, they, not government, have the right to turn it off. Don't like the paper, don't buy it. But stand up for the right of them to exist, free of government control, free to publish what one may disagree with, but what each of us must defend as a fundamental right of all.
First they came for Fox News, but I did not speak out-because I was not Fox News...
Peter J. Carr