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How About $16 Billion In Government Subsidies For The Media?

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Published on: September 7, 2019

How about we give every American $50 to donate to their favorite medical organization? Nah. $50 to donate to their favorite grocery store? Nope.

$50 to donate to their favorite media outlet? Sure.

Here is a novel idea for saving serious journalism: Give every adult American $50, via an income tax checkoff, to donate to a favorite news outlet.

This is not the work of the proverbial crackpot blogger in her pajamas but rather a white paper from a group of seven well-credentialed academics, led by Guy Rolnik of the Stigler Center of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

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No “crackpot blogger” would have come up with this. Just as no crackpot blogger would suggest massive government subsidies for any industry. That’s what “professionals” do. “well-credentialed” professionals who write white papers urging massive government subsidies.

What would this cost? A mere $16 billion or so. No big deal.

Are these “well-credentialed academics” seriously proposing a plan that could would direct millions to conservative media? Of course not.

Come on now.

…meeting the previous criteria will be eligible for media voucher funding independently of their political bias or the tone of their coverage, we think it is nonetheless important to introduce an ethical code created by news media stakeholders. The idea behind such a code is simply to avoid the public funding of disinformation and other harmful content. Compliance with the code will be assessed on an annual basis and the media outlet will have due process and a chance to appeal any adjudication of violation.

And who will be assessing these ethical violations?

Finally, an independent body—which we could call, for example, the Independent News Monitor—will be in charge of validating on an annual basis the exact list of the media outlets that meet these criteria and administering the ethical code. Key is the independence of this body; we believe that it should include representatives of journalists and of media owners, as well as scholars.

So lefty academics, media hacks and media bosses getting together to decide how to split their $16 billion pie and how to exclude not only conservative outlets, but any media outlet not radical enough for them.

Of course, that’s the tip of the iceberg. Part 4 of their proposal gets down to the rusty tacks. “Digital platforms enjoy a hidden subsidy worth billions of dollars by being exempted from any liability for most of the speech on their platforms (Section 230). We do not propose to repeal Section 230 but rather propose that platforms that would like to enjoy this protection should have to agree to take clear measures to prioritize content according to criteria other than the maximization of ad revenue.”

Section 230 should not exist, but it’s not a subsidy. Claiming that is literally the opposite of how facts work.

But everybody’s using ole’ 230 to threaten platforms and the well-credentialed academics would like to warn the platforms to “to prioritize content according to criteria other than the maximization of ad revenue.”

Also, TV networks should prioritize content according to criteria other than ad revenue.

And grocery stores should prioritize product sales according to criteria other than sales.

It worked in Venezuela. It’ll work in America.

Article posted with permission from Daniel Greenfield

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