by Greg Krehbiel on 17 February 2017
I love the image to the right. (I stole it from Instapundit. Click for a larger version if it’s too hard to read.)
Trump is continuing his war on the media, and some of them are acting as if this is a Great Constitutional Crisis. As far as I know, the president still has freedom of speech and can say what he likes. Attacking the press may or may not be smart, but it’s hardly a threat to our democracy.
Let’s take it as given (polls seem to bear it out) that the public doesn’t believe or trust the media. So … if the public doesn’t believe or trust the media, why are they still in business? Who is the “check” on media power?
It should be the media consumer. If we quit buying The Washington Post, or visiting its website — or if we take a page from the rabid left and pressure advertisers not to support them — then the Post is no more. Right?
Uh … no. Jeff Bezos comes along and props it up. Just as, for example, the Unification Church has propped up The Washington Times.
Since media is so ideological (let’s be honest and quit the silly pretense about objectivity), it’s not subject to the kind of market forces that, say, Twinkies would be. Nobody considers it a social obligation to prop up Twinkies, but some people — Bezos and the late Rev. Moon, for example — have considered it important to prop up certain kinds of journalism.
Which is all to say that while media is subject to market forces, it’s not a pure market. There is a sense that professional media is a public good. That sentiment has led to things like taxpayer funding for “public radio.”
If the media is not accountable to the market — at least not completely — to whom is it accountable? Who watches the watchers?
President Obama frequently complained about Rush Limbaugh and Fox News. And he had every right to do so — whether or not his criticisms were just. He can say what he likes.
President Trump can refer to “the failing New York Times” and call CNN “very fake news” if he wants. That’s perfectly okay.
In fact, I’m loving it. It’s about time somebody stood up to these stuffed shirts and told them they’re not the demigods they seem to believe themselves to be.
2017-02-17 » Greg Krehbiel