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Then They Came for the Newspapers

There is now talk of a federal bailout for newspapers. The Washington Post, lobbying for such a bailout in its editorial pages, used Obama-esque language: collective responsibility. That’s the suggestion that newspaper owners are entitled to take money from you and I by force, when we fail to give them enough voluntarily.


They have joined the line of beggars. They’ll be welcomed. The administration is eager to get its grubby paws firmly around the neck of the newspaper industry, and eventually all media. Steve Forbes said this past Saturday, on “Forbes On Fox” that government money doesn’t come with strings, but with chains. Just ask the bankers. Is it possible to be indebted to someone and be independent from them? No.


It may not be coincidence that the administration has been laying waste to the industries that buy the most media advertising – there’s reason for conspiracy theorists to see a sinister master plan. Insiders in the administration have, at different times, spoken and written about their preference for state-run media, their admiration for Chavez’ iron-fisted control of radio in his country, their scheme to impose crushing taxes on privately owned radio stations in order to fund PBS-like radio stations providing “more balanced” (translation: more favorable to the administration) programming. If it’s the newspaper industry that falls into their clutches first, so be it. Any path to suppressed dissent will do. Any way to end and prevent embarrassing revelations like those about Acorn or rampant fraud in government giveaway programs is welcome. As the guy running this show said, waste no crisis. Even if it must be manufactured.


In re-classifying Fox News Network as an enemy political organization, this administration has surpassed Nixon at his worst moments, and revealed its true nature. To their credit this past week, the other networks balked at having Fox excluded from pool coverage of the Pay Czar’s pronouncements. It is dawning on others in the media – as it must for every momentarily favored constituency – that when the government puts on its jack-boots to come for Them, it is only a matter of time before they come for You.


Once there is a government-run, government-funded health plan encompassing the majority of Americans, do hospital owners and administrators and executives, doctors, even nurses seriously think that their salaries will be safe from government control? The pharmaceutical companies’ executives? The ad agencies that work for the hospitals and drug companies? The media in which they advertise?


Every American must realize: if any are unsafe, all are unsafe. When Obama declares war on a city (Las Vegas), an industry (banking and finance; insurance), a category of people (those on Wall Street), or a singled out entity (U.S. Chamber of Commerce; Fox News), he demonstrates that he can declare war on you, too.


Back to newspapers. Yes, losses of newspapers and their investigative journalists is a problem. But a government bailout is no solution. It is handing the government its excuse for untold new regulation, interference and control. Really, do you think Woodward’s and Bernstein’s work that toppled the Nixon Administration would have seen light of day had they worked for a newspaper bailed out, propped up, and overseen by Nixon? Would Cronkite have been permitted to peck away at LBJ (just as Glenn Beck is doing to Obama) had CBS been a recipient of bailout money and subject to supervision by LBJ?


We have already seen President Obama take over GM, fire its CEO, and restructure it as he saw fit (gifting a fat hunk of its ownership to the unions at all taxpayers’ expense). He’s forced changes on companies’ boards of directors, bluntly threatened industries, companies, and most recently, broadcast networks – warning them not to follow in Fox’s footsteps, exposing inconvenient truths. If this is some of what we’ve seen done openly, what’s going on in secret? And our best chance of finding out is the target in the cross-hairs: the news media.


Dan Kennedy is a serial entrepreneur, adviser to business owners, sought-after speaker and author of 13 books. More information about Dan can be found at www.NoBSBooks.com, and a free collection of his business resources including newsletters and webinars at www.DanKennedy.com.

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