When one declares oneself to be a conservative, one is not, unfortunately, thereupon visited by tongues of fire that leave one omniscient. The acceptance of a series of premises is just the beginning. After that, we need constantly to inform ourselves, to analyze and to think through our premises and their ramifications. We need to ponder, in the light of the evidence, the strengths and the weaknesses, the consistencies and the inconsistencies, the glory and the frailty of our position, week in and week out. Otherwise, we will not hold our own in a world where informed dedication, not just dedication, is necessary for survival and growth.

William F. Buckley Jr., Feb 8, 1956, NR

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The following are some thoughts from Laura Beth, a friend of mine who is a conservative woman and involved deeply in the community and regional politics. I am posting as is...

For those of you who don’t believe that an assault on our First Amendment rights is brewing, get a load of this.

LA Times op-ed columnist and a law professor at the Georgetown University Law Center Rosa Brooks has joined the Obama administration as an advisor to the undersecretary of Defense for policy, but not before writing her final column on April 9 calling for a federal bailout of the newspaper industry. In her article Brooks advocates increasing "direct government support” for public media (scary!) and, even scarier, creating licenses to govern news operations.

Our founding fathers would be rolling over in their graves if Ms. Brooks’ proposal were to come to fruition. Not only does it fly in the face of one of the very first issues expressly addressed in the Bill of Rights, it’s incredible that an adviser to our federal government would even consider bailing out an industry that “free enterprise and competition marked for failure – or a transition into something else,” as Ken McIntyre, media & public policy fellow at the Heritage Foundation, so rightly points out.

Brooks admits that (she) "can't imagine anything more dangerous than a society in which the news industry has more or less collapsed". And on this point, I wholeheartedly agree. But what Brooks is missing is the fact that the news industry isn't collapsing - it's merely evolving with new technology.

People my generation and younger obtain their news differently than previous generations, and have vastly different expectations of the type of the news we read. We get most of our news from the internet and expect it to be both immediate and free. Not only that, but we may also read the same story from several different sources in order to formulate our own thoughts and opinions on the subject. Newspapers, and even the nationally televised news channels, simply cannot meet our needs and expectations. Mark my words, before too long, newspapers and television news will join scrolls and stone tablets in the graveyard for obsolete media.
Ms. Brooks, this is not the time to cry “Do not go gentle into that good night”; instead, it’s time to recognize that the aging prize-fighter’s winning streak is over, and allow the champ to disappear quietly with his dignity.
Providing a licensing system and/or a bailout package in the hopes of reviving the struggling news media industry is not only expressly contrary to the rights expressly granted to the people by our federal Constitution, but also completely disregards the valid reasons that these rights were granted to us in the first place.

The term “free press” obtained its origins from the abolishment of licensing printer/publishers. In 1688, when England abolished the office of Imprimenteur, “works could then be published without first obtaining the permission of the government officer”, as Thomas Paine elegantly explained in his 1806 letter on the Liberty of the Press.

In fact, the common law view to this very circumstance was expressly addressed in Blackstone’s Commentaries, a major legal text of the 18th century. It reads, "To subject the press to the restrictive power of a licenser, as was formerly done, both before and since the Revolution, is to subject all freedom of sentiment to the prejudices of one man, and make him the arbitrary and infallible judge of all controverted points in learning, religion and government."

One of the primary reasons for the freedom of the press clause in the First Amendment is to eliminate government censure, but the practice of licensing journalists would practically guarantee that widespread censure is exactly what would occur.

Preventing governmental censure is also a primary reason that the media should reject any and all “direct government support”. If the government is licensing and financially supporting the national news media, they are merely a hairsbreadth away from controlling its content. Then, what would be the point? Joel Brinkley, a visiting professor or journalism at Stanford University said “no one would trust the news industry if it accepted heaps of government money.“ And you know what? I think he’s right.

However, it’s already started. In a March 18 article in The Nation, John Nichols & Robert McChesney admit that “Today the government doles out tens of billions of dollars in direct and indirect subsidies, including free and essentially permanent monopoly broadcast licenses, monopoly cable and satellite privileges, copyright protection and postal subsidies”, as if calling the postal subsidies instead of mini-bailouts will make it all better. So far, the Obama administration has been silent on the issue, and media experts don’t believe that there will be any chance of an actual bailout for the newspaper industry. Even so, legislation is in the works to allow newspapers to operate as tax-exempt nonprofits as long as they don’t endorse political candidates, effectively censuring editorial columns nation-wide in one fell swoop of the pen.

I am positively flabbergasted that the movement supporting a “broadsheet bailout” is gaining momentum. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised since Ms. Brooks apparently isn’t on her own; several formal journalists from media powerhouses such as the Chicago Tribune, Time magazine, and the Washington Post have gone to work for the Obama administration after the ax had fallen. But what gets me is that it now seems as if the journalists’ self-preservation is quickly superseding the defense of rights that journalists have fought for centuries to protect because of their advocacy of programs that would essentially eliminate the freedom of the press.


TAO said...

Lets separate journalists, the folks that are trained to investigate, research, and report their findings from their employers.

What would news be without the experience, effort, and risk that these people take?

It is the Newspapers, the magazines, and the news organizations that pay these people their salaries. So, how would these people be paid to investigate if their were not newspapers.

Do you believe that news is gathered by analysts and such, or talking heads that appear on television?

Fox News has no investigative reporters and neither does MSNBC.

CNN has a couple and to a lesser extent so does NBC, ABC, and CBS...but nothing like they used to. Its all gossip and talking heads.

Where would we be and what would we know if it wasn't for Seymour Hirsch, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward...

If it wasn't for print media there wouldn't be any journalism and no investigative reporters but rather nothing but opinions, commentary, and personalities...

Joe said...

Reverting to the licensing of newspapers and other print media is a bone chilling idea.

TAO is wrong on one point (at least): Hirsch, Bernstein and Woodward are not journalists and more than Curic, Williams or Gibson are journalists.

To go into a "journalistic" investigation with a pre-conceived conclusion is the antithesis of journalism.

To investigate in order to find our what happened, why and by whom IS journalism, so long as the journalists own biases and prejudices are not involved.

In truth, objectivity in journalism is a thing of the past.

Having said that, having the government license journalists, even fake ones, is terrifying to freedom...even freedom of the press.

John Lofton, Recovering Republican said...

Forget, please, "conservatism." It has been, operationally, de facto, Godless and therefore irrelevant. Secular conservatism will not defeat secular liberalism because to God both are two atheistic peas-in-a-pod and thus predestined to failure. As Stonewall Jackson's Chief of Staff R.L. Dabney said of such a humanistic belief more than 100 years ago:

"[Secular conservatism] is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is today .one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will tomorrow be forced upon its timidity and will be succeeded by some third revolution; to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt bath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted? Its impotency is not hard, indeed, to explain. It is worthless because it is the conservatism of expediency only, and not of sturdy principle. It intends to risk nothing serious for the sake of the truth."

Our country is collapsing because we have turned our back on God (Psalm 9:17) and refused to kiss His Son (Psalm 2).

John Lofton, Editor, TheAmericanView.com
Recovering Republican

PS – And “Mr. Worldly Wiseman” Rush Limbaugh never made a bigger ass of himself than at CPAC where he told that blasphemous “joke” about himself and God.

matthk said...

Bill of Rights? Conservatives don't know the meaning of it. It's conservative thought and deed that oppresses - and has oppressed - throughout history. No-one has ever been oppressed by liberal attitudes you dunderheads. Seen many oppressed Scandinavians lately? Ever? No?

And before you start, yes, I believe the Chinese ARE conservatives, in the purest sense. There's nothing 'left wing' or indeed 'liberal' about the place. You want conservatism? Move to Burma!.

Alisa Rosenbaum said...

Provocative site. Do you still write?

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