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Philly Newspapers: Red all over! February 15, 2009

Posted by papundit in Uncategorized.

Earlier this month the Wall Street Journal devoted an editorial to the astonishing news that Pennsylvania’s government was discussing a bailout of the Philadelphia newspapers.

Taxpayer cash is going to rescue so many people these days that it is hard to sort the truly awful ideas from the merely terrible. Then we heard the doozy out of Pennsylvania, where Governor Ed Rendell has discussed a state bailout of the company that owns a pair of Philadelphia newspapers, the Inquirer and the Daily News.

[Rendell spokesman Chuck] Ardo told us the state has an interest in saving the paper to protect jobs as well as a free press. Newspapers are “the lifeblood of democracy,” he says. But newspapers aren’t the lifeblood of anything if they are merely an adjunct of the state. Independent journalism is valuable, but only if it is truly independent. A newspaper that is bankrolled by the state, even if it’s only a loan, is going to have a strong interest in not criticizing the state. Perhaps this is one of Mr. Rendell’s goals, since like all politicians he prefers a favorable press.

Brian Tierney, President and CEO of the papers, had his rebuttal printed this weekend, but to my ear he only made the affair look even worse:

[T]he overwhelming majority of our employees who would benefit from such economic development money have no influence on the editorial content of our newspapers and online properties. They are drivers, distributors, pressmen, advertising salespeople, mailers and paper handlers. These are all valuable, good jobs which our company wants to preserve.

Apparently Tierney is not familiar with the premises of capitalism and limited government.  When the free market no longer supports a company’s product, the company’s jobs are by definition not valuable.  A bankrupt company is supposed to go out of business, and its workers are supposed to find good new jobs that the market does value.

Hey Brian: There’s a political philosophy in which government both controls the media and chooses which goods and services are produced.  We don’t practice it in this country, but if you hurry you still might be able to enjoy it in North Korea….



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