A Democratic Dole for the Press

Source: Wall Street Journal (behind paywall).

What explains it?

The Democrats’ $3.5 trillion budget bill features tax breaks for countless progressive causes, but one buried in the fine print is a doozy. The House Ways and Means Committee voted last week to subsidize journalists. Congress wants to subsidize the only institution less popular than . . . Congress.

The “Payroll Credit for Compensation of Local News Journalists” offers print and digital publishers up to $50,000 a year for each journalist on staff. The tax credits are capped at 50% of each employee’s wage in the first year and drop to 30% thereafter. “Democracy depends on original reporting, and local newspapers are responsible for more than half of that,” Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden told the Seattle Times last week.

To qualify for the credit, a publication must have no more than 750 employees. It also must “[serve] the needs of a regional or local community,” and employ at least one journalist who lives in that area.

Some people must think that anything good for the public is automatically a public good deserving to be paid for by government. But this way of thinking is obviously irrational.

Or maybe Congress wants to make state-controlled media official; never mind the long list of gross failures such experiments have produced in the past.

Or maybe it is just so sad that journalism today has cancer. We must do something; if only one child and so forth.

I’m baffled. A federal subsidy for news organizations is so thoroughly anti-American I can’t imagine there is any explanation except that America no longer exists.

17 thoughts on “A Democratic Dole for the Press

  1. “Or maybe Congress wants to make state-controlled media official; never mind the long list of gross failures such experiments have produced in the past.”

    Actually, it should help prevent corporate-controlled media. Sinclair Broadcasting is estimated to control (through various means) around 70% of news stations and local affiliates across the country. I’m sure we’ve all seen the montage clips of news anchors across the country reading the same stories using the same scripts, verbatim.

    Once again, the right’s fever dreams about government totalitarianism blinds them from the actually existing corporate totalitarianism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. RE: “Once again, the right’s fever dreams about government totalitarianism blinds them from the actually existing corporate totalitarianism.”

      Who said anything about totalitarianism? In purely Jeffersonian terms, state-controlled media entails a conflict of interest.

      In any case, state-controlled media is what we already have, just absent the funding mechanism. Fifty years ago the proposal would have been laughed at. Now, apparently-smart people attack the notion of laughing at government subsidized media.


      1. Not die, but being eaten by larger corporations.

        Perfect example is our own local papers, now owned by a large media conglomerate in Chicago. What does some money counter in Chicago know about Hampton Roads (or Tidewater, if you will)?

        I know you can’t stand the thought of the WAPO motto, “Democracy Dies in Darkness”. BUT a free press, unencumbered by corporate interests that CAN protect the little people in places like Norfolk, Chesapeake, Williamsburg and elsewhere around the country.


        1. OK. So make the case that a government-funded news media solves all those problems. In particular, tell us how government-sponsored journalists are likely to bite the hand that feeds them.


          1. That is what a truly free press does. That is the wonderful thing about this. It protects local journalism and allows them to say what needs to be said. You know, First Amendment shit.


  2. I think the constitution provides for freedom of the press not payment to the press. This is soooo corrupt it makes a maggot infested corpse smell like daisies.


    1. How is it corrupt? Fossil fuel companies get propped up all of the time with tax subsidies, yet they still make BILLIONS in profits every quarter. And the Constitution doesn’t provide for that either.


        1. Do we really have to tell you again that the tax breaks given to fossil fuel companies are akin to straight cash subsidies, They aren’t “accounting conventions”; they are corporate theft from the government.

          YOUR big government at work.


      1. Well, I don’t think I have ever seen an oil company control how media reports “news”. Heck, MSM is already in bed with Democrats so I dont know if this is payment for past or future services or both.


        1. Big Oil, Big Tobacco and Big Pharma have used phony media press releases for decades.

          No carbon, nicotine is good for you and opioids are not addicting…news we had heard since middle of the last century.


  3. Well, let’s not leave out subsidies for telephone switchboard operators and wheelwrights. There must be scores of obsolete professions willing to trade their souls for a subsidy.


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