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The Columbia University President shares these freedom-fighting (against) comments in tomorrow’s WSJ:

Meanwhile, the broadcast news industry was deliberately designed to have private owners operating within an elaborate system of public regulation, including requirements that stations cover public issues and expand the range of voices that could be heard. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld this system in the 1969 Red Lion decision as constitutional, even though it would have been entirely possible to limit government involvement simply to auctioning off the airwaves and letting the market dictate the news. In the 1960s, our network of public broadcasting was launched with direct public grants and a mission to produce high quality journalism free of government propaganda or censorship.

Oh, so let me get this. Because the government forces the poor Americans to subsidize the television viewing habits of wealthier Americans via PBS and otherwise misallocates spectrum, that is justification for public subsidies for journalism? Seriously? Think about a publicly funded NPR-Newspaper. But more important, this argument is the stuff of 2nd grade schoolyard argumentation. Since Billy beat Johnny up last week, then it is a good idea for Billy to beat up Timmy this week.

Here’s another lovely,

The institutions of the press we have inherited are the result of a mixed system of public and private cooperation. Trusting the market alone to provide all the news coverage we need would mean venturing into the unknown—a risky proposition with a vital public institution hanging in the balance.

How’s that for serious analysis? This strategy is on page 1 of the statists’ activists manual – just say, “it’s too important to be left to the market” and so it will be. In any case, where is his evidence for this? What other areas are so important that the vicissitudes of the market have been unable to handle them? And what does it mean for “us” to “need” news coverage? And what is so vital about this “public institution?” A nice rhetorical trick in that last sentence too – call the media “public” thereby already giving it the flavor of being required by government.  Is this what stands for good argumentation at Columbia?

Let me ask two more questions, and I am sure Mr. Bollinger has a stock answer for them:

  1. If you view the decline of newspapers as a thing to lament, can you really lack so much imagination that the only “solution” you can come up with is for public funding of the industry? Is there really nothing else you can imagine that does not require additional government spending, coercion, influence? Say all you want about how we can “create independent and strong and balanced” oversight, but that is nothing more than a campaign slogan. In fact, where are the press ripping you now, you know, in the name of balance?
  2. Why do we even WANT the press to be balanced? I want the right ideas, the truth, to be presented. If we had balanced economic reporting, we would get equal coverage and presentation of the case for fixing prices – a profoundly bad and wrong economic idea. Please justify why balance is such a cherished item … and who gets to even decide what “balanced” means?

2 Responses to “Tired, Old, Powerful and Scary”

  1. Speedmaster says:

    I read that this morning as well and it scared the cr@p out of me. One only has to look at the USSR’s Pravda and the current situation in Venezuela to see where this quickly leads.

  2. Harry says:

    Go on a cruise to the Baltic, and you will be confined to CNN international and a digest of the New York Times, including ten column inches per week of Paul Krugman.

    Once, in Stockholm of all places, I found a copy of the WSJ Europe.

    We should rejoice in what is easily available here.

    It is not surprising that Europeans are socialists. That’s their steady diet.

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