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May 01, 2013

California Democrats Propose Punishing Investment Firms Which Might Finance Koch Purchase of LA Times

We had to destroy Free Speech in order to save it.

Democrats are actually floating the idea of withdrawing pension investments from firms that may finance the Koch Brothers' hypothetical purchase of the LA Times-- a straight-up state exercise of power to block someone's speech rights. And, as Allah supposes, so odious as to quickly get censured by a court, should it ever actually happen.

The Newspaper Guild has weighed in, calling on the Tribune to reject a Koch Brothers offer:

Recently you’ve seen many petitions asking that the Koch brothers not be allowed to buy the Tribune Company’s newspapers. We understand why the Kochs breed this distrust. They are active political proponents of harsh right-wing positions. We’re also not certain that Tribune will listen to anything but money when the final decision is made.

What we do know is that great papers publish credible, trusted journalism online and on the printed page. Whoever comes to own these mastheads needs to understand that protecting newsrooms from ideological taint is no small thing. The future of American journalism depends on the ability to print truth, not opinion.

Facts such as these?

Meghan McArdle wrote about this issue recently, specifically the new claims flowing from the left that newspapers are naturally and inevitably left-leaning (with the unstated suggestion that any deviation from this situation would be aberrant, immoral, and Just Plain Wrong). The claim goes that natural free-market forces compel a newspaper to be liberal, and therefore that's the natural state of things, and any deviation from that could only come from an unnatural commitment to an ideological position.

After digesting these claims, McArdle scotches them:

[M]any newspapers used to be conservative. But the media consolidation of the 1950s, when the rise television and radio drove most cities down to a single daily, actually gave newspapers considerable freedom to ignore the preferences of their readership. Not entirely; in most places you could not endorse the student riots, or communism. But you could afford to drift to the left of your readership as long as you maintained an agreeable tone about it. What were the readers going to do about it? Go without a newspaper?

I find this whole line of argument pretty absurd (and it comes from an absurd thinker, Something Faranze-Gupta or whatever, a serial offender in soft cryptomarxist stupidity).

Let's look at Europe. Europeans are our betters, are they not? Isn't that usually the left's claim when they seek a transformation of society?

London is England's city and perennially elects a leftwing mayor. And yet a plurality of its newspapers are conservative-leaning, in all categories, from the downscale tabloids to the upscale broadsheets.

Apparently in London "natural market forces" do not dictate that all major newspapers must be left-leaning. Most of them are actually Tory!

Similarly, in France, the conservative-leaning Le Figaro (published in Paris, generally mostly about Paris, as most French media is) is the second largest selling newspaper in the country. Yes, the top slot does go to a left-leaning paper, but apparently Paris, too, can successfully field a center-right newspaper.

(Note that both Paris and London are a bit different than the US, because both are sort of... city-states, in a way. That is, the distinction between "Paris" and "France" or "London" and "England" is slimmer one than the difference, say, between "Los Angeles" and "America." In France and England, the newspapers of the First City are de facto "national" newspapers in a way that no newspaper in the US is a de facto "national" newspaper.)*

Matt Welch looks at the example of the Houston Chronicle, a newspaper serving a huge right-of-center city, which has not been conservative sine the 50s.

"Natural market forces" do not demand that the Chronicle be left-of-center; rather, reporters at the Chronicle demand it be left-of-center.

These reporters are not serving their client base; they're serving themselves. They're not reflecting the preferences of their readers, but only their own.

This is nothing but protection of a particular ideology's power base. There is no "natural" reason that a media must be left-leaning, but leftists are goddamned determined that it remain so.

If natural market forces mean that all media must be liberal, someone should tell those California Democrats to stop using artificial, ideological state power to keep a leftist power-base in line. After all, natural market forces should take care of it on their own schedule, no?

* It occurs to me that the Founders kept the US from becoming a "city-state," if you will, dominated by one great city, when they insisted that the political capital of the United States should not be one of its commercial, financial, and population capitals. In the early days of the fledgling Republic, the "capital" famously circulated around a whole heck of a lot before moving permanently to a converted no-man's-land of a swamp straddling two different states.

And so the political power center of the US was kept physically separate from the financial, commercial, and media power centers. Until recently, at least, when the media-government-corporate power centers decided to merge because People Just Can't Think For Themselves and Because Socialism Is Teh Future.


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posted by Ace at 04:59 PM

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