FREEDOM OF THE PRESS OR BOUGHT AND PAID FOR “NEWS”?

Consider this quotation from Thomas Jefferson.

To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors, is sinful and tyrannical.

Jefferson made this statement within the context of the The Virginia Act for Establishing Religious Freedom – Draft (1779).  Jefferson wanted to stop government power from being used to force people from religious activities. Unfortunately, there are always people looking for ways to use government power to force other people to propagate their beliefs.  Consider this excerpt from InsideNoVA.com.

Public radio and TV stations across the country will receive more than $10 million over the next two years to boost local news coverage as newspapers decline.

On Thursday, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting announced the creation of local journalism centers in five regions. NPR and PBS stations in each region will collaborate on covering key issues, including immigration, agribusiness, the economy and health care. They will jointly hire about 50 multimedia journalists. (continued here)

While the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has an innocous name, it in fact receives hundreds of millions of dollars from Congress (see Federal Appropriation History). Thus, whether we like what we hear on Public radio and TV stations or not, “our” government forces us to pay for it.

Consider what the first amendment says.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.  (from here)

Nothing in the Constitution authorizes Congress to spend money propagating “news,” and the first amendment specifically obliges Congress to stay out of such activity. Unfortunately, too many congressmen interpret the Constitution as a “living document” whose meaning conveniently changes over time.

–Tom Salmon

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