Last week, we chastised a Federal Trade Commission draft proposal on the "reinvention of journalism" that would raise $35 billion in taxes for a media bailout. Turns out we weren’t alone in our opposition to the idea. A survey this week by Rasmussen Reports found overwhelming opposition to taxpayer subsidized journalism. Here is how the proposals panned out:
- 84% oppose the 3% monthly tax on cell phone bills ($6 billion per year)
- 76% oppose the 5% tax on consumer electronics, dubbed the iPad tax ($4 billion per year)
- 74% oppose a tax on Internet news websites that cross-link to original newspapers (e.g., the Drudge Report)
- 71% oppose using taxpayer money to hire and pay freshman newspaper reporters
This push by the FTC for taxpayer subsidized journalists has been heavily influenced by the pronounced socialist and founder of Free Press, Robert McChesney. While the report cites concerns that the industry is struggling to monetize itself as advertising and subscriber revenue declines, this uncertain transition between business models has provided an enormous opportunity for exploitation by socialists like McChesney who have called for the end to private, independent media (see here and here).
However, boosting the boondoggle of public media and having the government step in to “reinvent” the industry instead of letting the industry reinvent itself raises enormous concerns for First Amendment violations and increased political bias in journalism. As PFF’s Adam Thierer has pointed out, a recent Pew study found that “75% of all news executives surveyed – and 88% of newspaper executives – said they had ‘serious reservations,’ or the highest level of concern, about direct subsidies from the government.” In other words, the media prefers its independence from government and few journalists long to become it’s puppeteered mouthpiece.
Further, 58% of respondents in the Rasmussen survey were “confident that online and other news sources will make up the difference” if traditional media does take a hit. Perhaps this is a sign the American public is growing tired of the government consistently trying to buttress failing business models, instead of letting companies adapt naturally to economic realities and changes in consumer demands that exist in a free market. Or at least it’s a sign that the public isn’t buying this big-government solution for the “reinvention of journalism,” as the FTC creepily calls it.