If you think the establishment media doesn’t like the Democrats enough already, wait until the federal government is subsidizing it.
There’s plenty of objectionable waste in the $3.5 trillion spending bill the Democratic Party is pushing on Capitol Hill, but few giveaways hidden in the 881-page document are so blatant as a tax credit for “local news” outlets.
According to the Washington Times, the credit would allow the outlets to receive a quarterly tax credit “equal to 50%” of a journalist’s salary up to $12,500 a quarter.
Add that up and it’s a gift of $50,000 per year per journalist, courtesy of the Democrats and the federal government.
After the first year, the credit would decrease to 30 percent of a journalist’s salary. In five years, the program would sunset. Joint Committee on Taxation estimates say the program will cost over $1.3 billion between now and 2031.
“Think of it as a way to turn every news outlet in America into a version of NPR,” said Adam Guillette, president of conservative media watchdog Accuracy in Media, in a commentary piece for The Daily Signal.
“Let’s be clear: ‘Saving’ the media would destroy the media. How could we ever trust journalists to accurately cover the elected officials who voted against their funding?” he wrote in the Wednesday piece. “How can you ‘speak truth to power’ when you’re also pleading with that power for cash? Which news outlets would get the funding, and which would be snubbed?
“Any pretense of objectivity would be destroyed once the media is on the federal payroll,” he continued. “And if you think the media is already hostile to conservatives, libertarians, Christians, business leaders, southerners, and basically anyone who didn’t love Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s, D-N.Y., dress from the Met Gala, just imagine the disdain they’ll show us once they’re funded by tax dollars. Also imagine the press coverage of any politician that dares to oppose renewing — or increasing — their funding.”
In other words, don’t expect the tax credit to expire after the five-year sunset period — unless you want to see media outlets attacking the politicians who let it expire as enemies of democracy.
Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has called the “local news” bailout “media collusion.”
“Not only is this proposal a grotesque waste of taxpayer money,” Johnson said, “it would be a dangerous precedent of government collusion with the media. Biden’s collusion with the press has already caused enough damage to freedom of speech and freedom of the press.”
“Freedom of the press does not contemplate government funding of it,” Johnson added.
Let’s keep in mind, too, that the definition of a local news outlet in the bill’s language is promiscuous enough to cover some of the biggest names in media.
As the text crafted by the House Ways and Means Committee stands, it would benefit a “local newspaper publisher” that serves “the needs of a regional or local community and who employs no more than 750 employees.”
“The criteria are broad enough to cover major newspapers with a national reach,” the Times’ Haris Alric wrote in a Sept. 16 piece.
The language was introduced by Democrat Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, who’s introduced a similar local-news subsidization bill in previous Congresses.
“Local journalism is a bedrock pillar of communities across the United States,” Kirkpatrick said. “Unfortunately, journalistic endeavors throughout the country face major economic struggles that put the future of many publications in serious jeopardy.”
Yes, but the reason these papers “face major economic struggles” is because they’ve lost out to the competition, in no small part due to the built-in liberal bias in establishment media.
“In 2021, most Americans are getting their news from independent podcasts, blogs, social media sites, and more. They compensate these journalists using new payment services like Patreon, Buy Me a Coffee, and GoFundMe. Last year Patreon alone paid out roughly $1 billion to creators,” Accuracy in Media’s Guillette wrote.
“Rather than using politicians to shake down taxpayers, why don’t these desperate journalists try to collect money voluntarily on Patreon?”
The question answers itself: We wouldn’t give it to them, because we have choices. The journalists, in turn, think we shouldn’t have those choices because they’re bad for us.
Local establishment media in general — and newspapers in particular — still want to operate on a model that hasn’t existed for decades. Inside every dying newsroom in America, there’s a feeling readers and viewers would all be better served if we went back to the paternalistic model of half-a-century ago, where most cities had three TV stations and two newspapers, at best.
These outlets curated the news you could consume and shaped how you thought about it. One flavor of local news might be slightly different than another — this one a bit further to the left, this one skewing to the right — but if media outlets were restaurants, you’d still be eating at a burger joint every night.
We now live in a world where you can have Thai, poké bowls, Texas-style barbecue, quinoa wraps, cronuts and paleo. However, Democrats and the media (but I repeat myself) are incensed that you just won’t just eat at the freaking burger joint like you used to. They love burger joints so much, in fact, they want to take your money to keep them running so that you’ll have a good place to chow down when you finally come to your senses.
Except the government already has its own burger joints. They’re called PBS and NPR, and if one wants to see how government-funded media institutions cover government — particularly when one party supports that government funding and the other doesn’t — all one needs to do is turn on “All Things Considered.”
The only positive development that can come out of this tax credit, if the spending bill ends up passing in its current form, is that it further delegitimizes ossified local media outlets. Everything else about this proposed $1.3 billion giveaway is rotten to the core.