Columbia University’s President Lee Bollinger wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal advocating government subsidies of the MSM. Bollinger points out, correctly, that revenues of print newspapers and the broadcast media are declining rapidly. The MSM are indeed being bankrupted by new media and internet advertising. He argues (naturally, since he is writing his op-ed for a print newspaper) that this is a bad thing — depriving the American people of the knowledge they require to be good citizens.
His argument is so obviously false that he himself, in his own article, cannot avoid providing the facts needed to refute it. For example, Bollinger writes:
There are examples of other institutions in the U.S. where state support does not translate into official control. The most compelling are our public universities and our federal programs for dispensing billions of dollars annually for research. Those of us in public and private research universities care every bit as much about academic freedom as journalists care about a free press.
Yet — through a carefully designed system with peer review of grant-making, a strong culture of independence, and the protections afforded by the First Amendment — there have been strikingly few instances of government abuse. Indeed, the most problematic funding issues in academic research come from alliances with the corporate sector.
This is observably false. Presently, the “most problematic funding issues in academic research” come from government funding of climate research. The evidence is overwhelming that this “research” is largely fraudulent, and the fraud is driven by the fact that one can get funding from the government only if one has a track record of obtaining the results that the government wants.
Bollinger also writes:
American journalism is not just the product of the free market, but of a hybrid system of private enterprise and public support. By the middle of the last century, daily newspapers were becoming natural monopolies in cities and communities across the country.
Yes indeed, the middle of the last century is when daily newspapers started to become natural monopolies. This is when there began to be only one newspaper in a city. This is also when the single newspaper in town started to not print any facts that would damage powerful politicians in town.
On the national scale, we now know that the newspaper and broadcast reporters knew John F. Kennedy jumped into bed with virtually anyone wearing a skirt. The reporters and editors also knew that if the American people learned about Kennedy’s behavior, he was finished as a senator — to say nothing about his chances of being elected president. So these worthies kept the information from the American people.
This would not have been possible in the early days of the republic, and in fact, similar information was available to the American people. During Thomas Jefferson’s first term as president, newspapers opposed to Jefferson printed stories that he had several children by his slave Sally Hemings. DNA evidence has indicated that this was indeed the case.
DNA played a prominent role in a scandal involving a later president, but the MSM tried to cover for the president and keep the information from the American people. The story was broken not by a print newspaper, newsmagazine, or TV network, but rather by what CNN still refers to as “an Internet gossip column” — the Drudge Report. Without the DNA samples on the blue dress, the MSM would even today be denying that Clinton had “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.”
There are other potentially earth-shaking stories out there that could be confirmed or refuted by DNA tests. For example, Adolf Hitler’s first lawyer claimed that Hitler was actually a Jew. The psychiatrist whom President Franklin D. Roosevelt hired during World War II to analyze Hitler believed Hitler was a Rothschild. Hitler’s father was illegitimate, so indeed the ethnicity of Hitler’s paternal grandfather is open to doubt. The ethnicity question could be settled easily enough: It is well-known that Hitler has three half-grand nephews living today on Long Island. They long ago changed their name, but it is known that their paternal great-grandfather was Adolf Hitler’s father. These three Americans, in other words, have the same Y-chromosome as Adolf Hitler. Thus, by obtaining a sample of their DNA, the Hitler-Jew story could be checked.
Refuted, in my opinion. But if this story is ever investigated, it will be by a web-based media organization — the MSM would never be interested. Certainly a government-supported news organization would not be. Academic historians — historians like those at Columbia University — dismissed out of hand the possibility that Jefferson ever fathered children with one of his female slaves. The possibility that he did went against the narrative.
The new media has, collectively, no narrative. And this is precisely because web-based news organizations are not government-funded.
They are funded by customers when they provide their readers with exciting news stories, with thought-provoking op-ed pieces. When they fearlessly state the truth as they see it. By behaving, in other words, like the print newspapers America had in the Founders’ day.
We need no government bailout of newspapers. We need no American Pravda.