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.