Patterico's Pontifications

12/10/2008

Blagojevich Scandal Shows Why Newspaper Bailouts Must Never Happen

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am



A while back, Michelle Malkin warned of the increasing likelihood that our ailing newspapers could request a government bailout.

The lesson of the Rod “you just don’t give it away for nothing” Blagojevich scandal is that bailouts don’t come free. There are always strings attached.

Among the many astounding facts about yesterday’s news on the arrest of Blagojevich was the revelation that he had sought to have members of the Chicago Tribune editorial board fired in return for bailout money:

The charges also allege that Blagojevich tried to influence the composition of The Chicago Tribune editorial board in exchange for state aid to the Tribune Company, which owns the newspaper.

Blagojevich said: “Our recommendation is fire all those fucking people, get ‘em the fuck out of there and get us some editorial support.”

Barack Obama would hardly be as crass and stupid about demanding conditions as Blagojevich was. Blagojevich appears to have a special thick-headed arrogance that, like his hair, is all his own — as exemplified by his Gary Hart-style statement on Monday that “I don’t care whether you tape me privately or publicly.”

Obama won’t say: “fire the people who oppose me.” But he may say, a la his past goon squad’s actions, that newspapers need to be more careful about printing the truth. And everyone will nod their heads, because who can argue with that? And yet everyone will know exactly what he means.

And I’ll show rare respect for newspapers by saying this: if this ever comes to pass, it’s the beginning of the end of America. It will truly mark our slide into totalitarianism. If government starts attaching strings to what newspapers can write, it controls our means of information. And you can’t cure the problem with blogs. If they silence the newspapers, they’ll silence blogs too.

Any self-respecting journalist, offered a government bailout of any kind, must say no. The future of the country may depend on it.

P.S. Blagojevich may still have the power to fill the Senate seat. So rest easy.

28 Responses to “Blagojevich Scandal Shows Why Newspaper Bailouts Must Never Happen”

  1. The indictment also points how government money, in general, is corrupting — the demand for campaign cash in exchange for state money for a Children’s Hospital. If the government weren’t handing out our tax dollars like beads at Mardis Gras, pols wouldn’t be able to skim from the take like this.

    And while I agree with you on the “newspaper bailout” being the beginning of the end of the US, I think we’ve already got one foot in the air over that threshold. Today’s press stories on this are filled with efforts to distance Obama from Blagojevitch — despite there being plenty of stories tying them together in the past. The level of outright lying being done to protect Obama from the past the press covered up during the campaign is as damaging as a press owned by the government.

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  2. it’s the beginning of the end of America.

    Two biggest problems in America: people trust the media implicitly and people expect government to take care of them.

    A friend of mine thinks highly of herself because she is so well informed; she reads the LAT and NYT every day. *Sigh*

    Patricia (ee5c9d)

  3. Prava and Investia West have already been doing the bidding of the Hate America First/George Soros crowd. People like Pinch Salzberger exert enormous power amd discretion over what is printed and believed by the sheeple.

    Can you see Obama basically ignoring any efforts to undermine his acts or policies by the press, in the way in which the Bush administration has? And we’re talking releasing national security information and the like with the Times as the arbiter. Of course the various socialist enabling media outlets even deign to publish their editorial biases as factual news. In any case, I doubt much of the “free” press has any desire to thwart the Obamafuehrer in his quest for world harmony and self-aggrandizment. Obama surrounds himself with Blagojevich types who possess a sense of entitlement.

    madmax333 (0c6cfc)

  4. Blagojevich is innocent until proven guilty. He is a sitting governor. Of course he could appoint the senator. Otherwise any president could just arrest a governor on trumped up charges to control who he picks.

    The bottom line is that elections matter. We are now in the unfortunate position of having to relying on Blagojevich’s good sense and public spirit, the only things that keep him from making the appointment today.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  5. Amphipolis, Blago is as corrupt as Satan. He may now appoint himself as Obama’s replacement to DC’s den of thieves.

    Think Harry Reid won’t seat him? Think again, other than some nasty words, Reid will welcome any Democrat to the fold. Ethics are nothing to Democrats.

    PCD (7fe637)

  6. But nobody has the power to fill a Senate seat like Hillary Clinton can.

    Official Internet Data Office (9adeb5)

  7. I would think that the deal the LA Times made to finance the last purchase of the LA Daily News would be instructive. The Times now has all kinds of veto rights over business decisions at the Daily News, making it impossible for them to ever challenge the Times.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  8. BTW, if Blago fills the seat and Obama doesn’t bless the choice, there is NO chance the fool of an appointee will be seated. It’ll be a special election and the Republicans will have a good chance of picking up the seat.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  9. OIDO–

    I believe that Teddy Kennedy fills his seat rather a bit more.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  10. […] More: Eugene Volokh. Similarly: Patterico. […]

    Excessive entanglement of press and state (1562ea)

  11. Patterico writes,

    “And I’ll show rare respect for newspapers by saying this: if this ever comes to pass, it’s the beginning of the end of America. It will truly mark our slide into totalitarianism. If government starts attaching strings to what newspapers can write, it controls our means of information. And you can’t cure the problem with blogs. If they silence the newspapers, they’ll silence blogs too.

    Any self-respecting journalist, offered a government bailout of any kind, must say no. The future of the country may depend on it.”

    I agree. However, Rob, Patricia, and madmax (and Amphipolis on the different issue of Blago’s innocence until proven guilty and his ability to appoint someone to fill the empty Illinois US senate seat) are all correct.

    Unfortunately, much of the media has already voluntarily abandoned the obligation to report news objectively, fairly and balanced.

    Ira (28a423)

  12. Please explain how any content restrictions placed within a media bailout bill would not run afoul of the 1st-Amendment?

    Another Drew (cba5f8)

  13. “[A]ll Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do.”

    -Ari Fleischer

    OMG IZ A GOON SQUAD!

    Festivus (86f13d)

  14. Good point by Ira, to say we are screwing the pooch with Gov.t involvement in the media given the fact the media is already slanted and not reporting reality …

    …. our Democracy already has lost the media as an objective platform. Journalism is dead. They are simply shills composed of leftists and uninformed naves more interested in fame and popularity than in the ugly truth.

    Da'Shiznit (089453)

  15. “But nobody has the power to fill a Senate seat like Hillary Clinton Larry Craig can.”

    Take a wide stance bee-y**ch.

    Da'Shiznit (089453)

  16. Please explain how any content restrictions placed within a media bailout bill would not run afoul of the 1st-Amendment?

    Does the Constitution matter anymore? Seriously — some of what I’ve read says Hillary cannot take the SecState office because she voted to raise the pay for that position, and the Constitution bars any legislator who voted to increase the pay of a position to take that position. Yet no one seems all that perturbed by the idea of ignoring that provision.

    Government involvement with the press wouldn’t be positioned as a buy-out, and we’d likely hear no end of “there will be no content restrictions” from both government figures and the press. But handing our political class that kind of lever and believing they won’t use it because it’s unConstitutional…

    Rob Crawford (04f50f)

  17. Well if the guy can just make up new rights during debates then the Constitution is nothing but a piece of toilet paper. Enjoy your new right to health care people.

    Mr. Pink (a64369)

  18. […] Patterico, I found Michelle Malkin’s prescient prediction (how about that: both alliterative and […]

    Common Sense Political Thought » Blog Archive » Eighteenth century technology, part 4 (73d96f)

  19. Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

    Thomas Jefferson (556f76)

  20. TJ never had to deal with the dishonest partisanship of the current crop of pretend-papers,
    otherwise his opinion might vary.

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  21. Please explain how any content restrictions placed within a media bailout bill would not run afoul of the 1st-Amendment?

    Not sure if it would work, but the theory would likely be that while everyone has a right to free speech, no one has a right to subsidized free speech. When government itself is doing the speaking, it doesn’t have to be fair to the other side. So if it funds one paper, that’s “speaking.” If it doesn’t fund another paper, that’s “speaking,” too, or perhaps “not speaking,” which all actors including government also have a right to do.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  22. I just don’t believe that the Gov’t can get involved (monetary subsidy) without influencing the way the media reports – that would be an 1-A violation.
    There is no history of gov’t involvement in anything where it doesn’t throw its’ weight around.
    Therefore, just the fact that they did subsidize some media outlet, would be a violation of the rights of other, non-subsidized, media (14-A, perhaps?).
    I would argue along those lines that to bailout Detroit would be an equal-protection violation for the foreign-owned NoAmerican automakers – what you do for one, you have to do for all (which seems to be what is happening in the financial sector, almost).
    Otherwise, we have just trashed the Constitution, and have reverted to the Rule of Man.
    Long Live the King!

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  23. I agree, but as our host notes, that’s a reason why government should not get involved in the press. If we could be sure that the First Amendment would be construed as broadly as you suggest, a government bailout for the press might not be that big of a deal. But we can’t, so it is.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  24. Actually, my interpretation of the Bill of Rights is pretty straightforward, I’m kind of a literalist on the matter, and don’t get involved in ephemeral issues such as penumbras, and emmanations.
    Where it says “Congress shall make no law” seems pretty straightforward and direct – Keep your ….ing Hands Off!

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  25. Otherwise, we have just trashed the Constitution, and have reverted to the Rule of Man.
    Long Live the King!

    Welcome to the Era of Obama.

    Rob Crawford (b5d1c2)

  26. Obama!
    Ruler of the new Amerika,
    President for Life!

    Another Drew (4fff38)

  27. Blagojevich said: “Our recommendation is fire all those fucking people, get ‘em the fuck out of there and get us some editorial support.”

    Holy crap. If he was dead serious about this, he’s no better than Hugo Chavez.

    L.N. Smithee (9c1fce)

  28. Festivus wrote:

    “[A]ll Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do.”

    -Ari Fleischer

    OMG IZ A GOON SQUAD!

    Uh oh. Now you’ve done it. You’ve invoked one of The Great Liberal Lies of the George W. Bush Administration.

    Give me room.

    Urban legend disguised as agreed-upon actual events suggests that on September 26, 2001, Fleischer, White House Press Secretary, was issuing a thinly-veiled threat to Americans who were not displaying the daily minimum unquestioning patriotism after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

    Supposedly, the impetus of that infamous quote was Bill Maher’s remark on his old ABC late night show Politically Incorrect. He said that the 9/11 terrorists weren’t cowards, but rather, “[W]e [Americans] have been the cowards lobbing cruise missiles from 2,000 miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building, say what you want about it, it’s not cowardly.”

    When White House correspondent Les Kinsolving asked Fleischer his reaction to the quote, he said:

    MR. FLEISCHER: I’m aware of the press reports about what he said. I have not seen the actual transcript of the show itself. But assuming the press reports are right, it’s a terrible thing to say, and it’s unfortunate. And that’s why — there was an earlier question about has the President said anything to people in his own party — they’re reminders to all Americans that they need to watch what they say, watch what they do. This is not a time for remarks like that; there never is.

    Cherry-picked out of that response was “Americans … need to what watch what they say, watch what they do,” giving liberals an excuse to call Fleischer (and by implication, Bush) a “fascist.” But an accurate retelling of the events reveals that Fleischer wasn’t talking only about Maher’s remark. As alluded to in the above italicized words, he was also referring to this statement made by Congressman John Cooksey (R-Louisiana) on the subject of airport security checks:

    “If I see someone come in and he’s got a diaper on his head and a fan belt around that diaper on his head, that guy needs to be pulled over and checked.”

    Of course, Muslim men in America rarely are identifiable by headdress (Cooksey was apparently referring to the Saudi ghutra) if you see a man wearing a religious headdress (especially a turban), chances are he’s a Sikh. Needless to say, American Sikhs, who have no history of terrorism, weren’t amused. And before Kinsolving’s question about Maher in that same press briefing, another reporter asked Fleischer about Cooksey’s ignorant remark:

    Q Has the President had any communication with Representative Cooksey regarding his comments on Sikh Americans? And does he have a message for lawmakers and members of his party in particular about this issue?

    MR. FLEISCHER: The President’s message is to all Americans. It’s important for all Americans to remember the traditions of our country that make us so strong and so free, our tolerance and openness and acceptance. All Americans — and we come from a very rich cultural heritage, no matter what anybody’s background in this country. And that’s the strength of this country, and that’s the President’s message that he expressed in his speech to Congress and as he has done when he visited the mosque a week ago Monday, and in the meetings that he’s hosting here at the White House today with Muslim Americans and Sikh Americans.

    Q Did he speak to Representative Cooksey, and what were his reactions upon hearing those?

    MR. FLEISCHER: The President was very disturbed by those remarks.

    The fact that the misinterpretation of Fleischer’s words endures to this day is illustrative of the inability of the Bush White House to set the record straight when it was within its power.

    But now, the rest of you know. So don’t let anybody get away with it.

    L.N. Smithee (9c1fce)


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