Thomas Jefferson must be rolling over in his grave. He is the one who said to John Jay in 1786, “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”
The “Sage of Monticello” never could have imagined what would become of the free press in America. But, don’t blame him. Jefferson and his colleagues didn’t have much experience with the free press. That’s because he and the other American Founding Fathers invented it, essentially. It was new territory.
Many public schools don’t teach that any more, but it’s true. The free press is an American original, like baseball and jazz. They ruined baseball with the designated hitter and performance enhancing drugs and the concept of freedom of the press is pretty much long gone, too. The rules of the media game have changed and the craft itself has become almost unrecognizable in some quarters.
The media was supposed to be a watchdog, but now much of the press sleeps with the enemy. For example, there is an American “news agency” that has been subsidized by the federal government to the tune of $364 million over the last ten years. This outrage has been exposed by the Media Research Center.
The outfit with its face in the government trough is Internews. It was founded by a self-described Marxist, has been supported by one of the darlings of leftists, billionaire George Soros, and is, it says, committed to what it calls “progressive” reporting. Translation? Left-wing propaganda.
In 2011 alone, Internews was given $52, 350,784 in government grants, according to its 990 tax forms. This made up just under 93% of the $56,644,153 million in total reported income for that year. Wow! I seriously doubt that’s what Jefferson had in mind.
In fact, the idea of government support of any amount for any news organization is repugnant, much less $52 million being given to ONE organization. All Americans should be appalled that this goes on. Yet, NPR gets its piece of the pie and PBS gets some, too. No self-respecting journalist should ever hang his or her hat in any newsroom that is funded by the government and Congress should immediately discontinue the funding of ANY media corporation.
Everyone pretty much knows about NPR and PBS. And, yes, everyone pretty much knows they are liberal, which is a euphemism for statist. If they are supported by the state, they answer to the state. And that’s why it’s immoral for the state to GIVE financial support to the media and it’s immoral for the media to TAKE financial support from the state. And it doesn’t matter whether the support is given directly or indirectly.
But, for all intents and purposes, Internews stands alone. In a show of the kind of arrogance that can only come from a government-fed “news” organization, the global director for the Internews environmental program says it is “false balance” to give climate-change skeptics equal time. In other words, the fix is in. Hitler and Stalin would be proud. Make sure the “state” media trumpets the official party line when it comes to climate change. Double wow!
To add insult to injury, we the people are paying for this stuff. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being lavished on a propagandistic news agency no one knows about. For $364 million, shouldn’t the taxpayers at least have a TV station to show for it? Or a newspaper? Instead, we have another waste of state funds on the salaries of a collection of “lefties” who purport to train journalists in the art of fair and balanced reporting. Triple wow!
What would Thomas Jefferson say about that? What would he say about a fake “news agency” that is not committed to watching government? What would he say about a news agency that serves the state instead of scrutinizing it?
In today’s media climate, you don’t even have to have an audience. MSNBC barely draws flies, but thanks to its rich parents, Comcast and NBC, Al Sharpton and Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow keep on truckin’. If MSNBC had to survive on its own, it would have died a natural death long ago.
CNN averages 78,000 viewers over the course of any given day. And keep in mind, there are people in airports all over the world who have an opportunity to watch Ted Turner’s brainchild, but, apparently, they don’t. You would think a captive airport audience alone would insure far more than 78,000 viewers at any particular time, but, it appears, even those who have no choice avoid CNN like the plague.
Why? Because they are not interested in what CNN has to offer. They are not interested in what MSNBC has to offer. Would CNN or MSNBC ever expose the Internews scam? Not gonna’ happen. It is doubtful either news organization would even see the Internews scam as a story. That’s because CNN and MSNBC operate like state-run subsidies without the subsidy. In fact, most of the mainstream media operates that way. They are the public relations arm of the Democratic Party and shills for Barack Obama.
Now, the government, in the form of the Federal Communications Commission, is reportedly considering placing federal “monitors” in newsrooms all over the country under the guise of gathering facts about how the media decides what stories to run and how the media reports those stories to the public. It is Orwellian, but not unexpected. When you sleep with dogs, you get fleas. The state is always looking for an opportunity to tell journalists how to cover the news and politicians love to work with compliant reporters. It makes the job of bamboozling the public that much easier.
So, what’s the solution? Some moral courage on the part of Congress would be nice. Defund Internews, NPR, PBS, and any other news organization getting fat at the state’s table. Let them see if they can survive without federal support. Make them compete in the marketplace of ideas, and then, if they want to continue to give us their liberal slant on things, at least we won’t have to pay for it.
That might make Thomas Jefferson rest easier.
Ed Baswell pastors The Clarion Church and is the host of Crossfire Radio, weekdays from 7-9 am, on The Promise, 90.7 FM. The show is streamed live worldwide at promisetalkradio.org and at ktbs.com. It can be seen each day on the KTBS 24-hour, digital news channel.