Often the right looks ridiculous by raising the specter of Communism in response to programs from the left, such as with labeling the Affordable Care Act a government takeover of health care despite being based upon expanding private insurance coverage. I would think that more intelligent conservatives would avoid this line of argument. But what happens when it is the right argument and conservatives can’t legitimately make it without looking like the boy who cried wolf one too many times?After reading this absurd article by Fred Jerome at Salon, I’ll lend them a hand, and perhaps provide them with some cover. On this topic, sensible liberals and the right wing should be aligned in opposing this idea. Outcomes such a what occurred in the Soviet Union or Communist China are exactly what we should fear by this insane proposal to nationalize the news media.
The article begins:
Imagine a world without the New York Times, Fox News, CNN, the Wall Street Journal, and countless other tools used by the 1 percent to rule and fool.
In a socialist society run by and for the working people it represents, the mega-monopolies like Walmart, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, and the corporations that run the tightly controlled “mainstream media” will be a thing of the past.
Jerome does have some valid criticism of the media. The point is not that there aren’t problems with the media as it now exists, and with the concentration of ownership in so few hands. The problem is that his solution would be far worse. He gives lots of bromides such as:
A democratic, accessible-to-all media will move to center stage in a socialist USA. In some ways this democratization of the media is already happening on the Internet. But the government’s ability to spy on and even turn off the Internet belies any real democracy. In a socialist democracy, working people will control the political process, the way in which they make a living, and collectively and individually, they will influence mass culture. The Internet will be a powerful and democratizing tool in this effort…
In a socialist society a portion of the media would be reserved for news disseminated by the democratically elected governing bodies, that is, working people elected by and for working people.
But state ownership is not the only way media can represent the interests of working people, to speak with or through their voices. In most cases, the media would be owned and operated by working-class organizations—labor unions, neighborhood associations, and cultural centers.
So news (and views) in a socialist society will be brought to you by a plethora of noncommercial sponsors. The government media will report on and discuss, for example, the major government plans for production, how to improve education, and more. But other media—newspapers, TV and radio stations, and Web sites sponsored by workers’ organizations, cultural organizations, youth groups, sports teams, and neighborhood groups will report on issues specific to their interests.
The media has many faults, but shutting it down by nationalization could only lead to tyranny. The standard corporate-run media has its faults, and of course there is Fox. Attempting to shut down and nationalize any of them, even Fox, would be a tremendous blow against liberty. With all their faults, The New York Times, McClatchy, PBS, and other parts of the news media still provide a valuable source of information. Fox might be primarily propaganda, but defending freedom of speech includes those we disagree with (while we take every opportunity to also expose them).
Reading Jerome’s article is enough to make me feel like reading some Ayn Rand for balance. While Rand made many mistakes in her over-reaction to her experiences under Communism, her warnings would be valid in this case. The Blaze is also right in responding that
…it has been demonstrated time and time again throughout history that a government-controlled media is not a free media. The ease with which the government and labor unions would be able to censor the news is a chilling prospect to imagine. We would suddenly find ourselves in a world where free speech in the media would first have to be “approved.”
It is a shame that some conservative bloggers have given into the temptation to claim that this lunacy represents liberal beliefs, when this is the opposite of liberalism.