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Bailout of newspapers by Congress? Beware the strings attached

While President Obama has said he would be “happy to look at” any bills coming out of Congress that would try to bailout newspapers, Congress, thankfully, is in no hurry to offer succor to its chief watchdog, according to the Washington Times.

Obama told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently, "I am concerned that if the direction of the news is all blogosphere, all opinions, with no serious fact checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, that what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void but not a lot of mutual understanding."

But the appetite for such a bailout for “serious fact checking” was not apparent recently when only three of the 20 House and Senate members of the Joint Economic Committee showed up for a hearing titled "The Future of Newspapers: The Impact on the Economy and Democracy."

Several people testified that subsidies and bailouts of newspapers would jeopardize their role as independent observers and editorial advocates.

One committee member, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney of New York, said, "I want to be very clear: This is not about bailouts. No one’s talking about bailouts. We’re through with bailouts."

Good. The corollary to the First Amendment prohibition against Congress making laws to abridge free speech and press should be that Congress keep its corrupting hands off.

Because, when they have you by the wallet your hearts and minds will follow. Money comes with strings attached that can choke you.

If they can bail out GM, fire the head of the company and tell them what kinds of cars to make, could they possible resist telling the newspapers they "own" what, and what not, to report.

Here is columnist Michelle Malkin’s take on the idea:

 

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