“I personally encourage the president to establish a White House commission on public media,” the legendary newsman said.In response, James Taranto at the Wall Street Journal has some thoughts on government support for journalists:
Such a commission on media reform, Rather said, ought to make recommendations on saving journalism jobs and creating new business models to keep news organizations alive.
At stake, he argued, is the very survival of American democracy.
“A truly free and independent press is the red beating heart of democracy and freedom,” Rather said in an interview yesterday afternoon. “This is not something just for journalists to be concerned about, and the loss of jobs and the loss of newspapers, and the diminution of the American press’ traditional role of being the watchdog on power. This is something every citizen should be concerned about.”
A press that is financially dependent on the government cannot be free. Even if it had formal protections against micromanaging by elected officials, socialized journalism would inevitably be compromised journalism. It would be no more independent than a subsidized farmer or a defense contractor.One might add, as is the case with the CBC, that a press that is dependent on the government will have a vested interest in backing the political party that promises the greatest level of financial support.
(HT: John Stossel)