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Obama vs. press freedom

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Dick Morris
The Hill
Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of Obama’s Federal Trade Commission, is at the epicenter of a quiet movement to subsidize news organizations, a first step toward government control of the media. In our book, 2010: Take Back America — A Battle Plan, we reported that he had commissioned a study to examine plans for a federal subsidy for news organizations. Among the measures under consideration are special tax treatment, exemption from antitrust laws and changes in copyright laws.

Now Leibowitz has begun to pounce. A May 24 working paper on “reinventing” the media proposes that the government impose fees on websites such as the Drudge Report that link to news websites or that it tax consumer electronics such as iPads, laptops and Kindles. Funds raised by these levies would be redistributed to traditional media outlets.

While Leibowitz distanced himself from the proposals for the taxes, calling them “a terrible idea,” his comments appear to be related only to the levies proposed in the working paper. Nobody is commenting on the other part of his proposal — a subsidy for news organizations.

By now, the Obama MO should be clear to all. As he has done with the banks, AIG and the car companies, he extends his left hand offering subsidies and then proffers his right laden with regulations. Should the government follow through on Leibowitz’s ideas and enact special subsidies and tax breaks for news organizations, it will induce a degree of journalistic dependence on the whims of government not seen since the days when the early presidents bestowed government advertising on favored periodicals.

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This article was posted: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 at 3:53 am





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