Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders' Plan To Save Newspapers Is Wrong on Every Level

Even as the senator calls Donald Trump a press-bullying authoritarian, he threatens press freedom in the name of preserving "independent" media.

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By his own admission, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) isn't a dyed-in-the-wool socialist who wants the state to actually own the means of production. But he still wants the government to be very much in the mix of just about every sort of business that gets transacted. That's scary enough when we're talking about making widgets or reducing the number of people who are allowed to enter the country legally (the Democratic presidential hopeful is worried that too many poor people will show up). But it's really bad news when it comes to regulating the media, which is very much on the senator's mind these days.

Writing in Columbia Journalism Review (the self-proclaimed "voice of journalism"), Sanders has unveiled a plan that would halt all media mergers if his administration believes they would reduce the number of journalists employed, "adversely affect people of color and women," or concentrate ownership in fewer hands (sort of a basic goal of all mergers). Sanders says that Facebook and Google have "monopolistic control" of online advertising because between them they account for 60 percent of "the entire digital advertising market" and swears that "after decades of consolidation and deregulation, just a small handful of companies control almost everything you watch, read, and download."

"[President Donald] Trump's authoritarian bullying of the media is totally unacceptable," writes Sanders even as he lays out his plans to limit the ability of, for instance, Jeff Bezos to run The Washington Post as he sees fit. "We should not," avers the senator,

want even more of the free press to be put under the control of a handful of corporations and "benevolent" billionaires who can use their media empires to punish their critics and shield themselves from scrutiny.

When I am president, my administration will put in place policies that will reform the media industry and better protect independent journalism at both the local and national levels.

So when Trump calls out Jeff Bezos for publishing "fake news" and threatens him with libel and other actions, he is an authoritarian bully who must be stopped. (Disclaimer: Bezos has donated money to Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes this website.) But when Bernie Sanders does exactly the same thing, he is a savior to an industry that has arguably been battered more by the gale of creative destruction than any other in the past 25 years or so.

Sanders' distress over media consolidation rings hollow not simply because he merely rehashes old, played-out perennial complaints. Remember back in 2000 when the merger of AOL and Time Warner spelled the absolute doom of an independent press? Better yet, can you even remember AOL or Time magazine, once massive presences in media that are now desiccated ruins of their former selves? At a point when traditional broadcast TV and radio have never had less influence on public discourse, is the solution making sure that the "right" type and number of people—however defined—own the appropriate number of stations? Does anyone in their right mind think, as Sanders does, that a "targeted tax" on online advertising and "tech companies" will actually work to fund "independent public media" that will somehow report earnestly on the very government that ensures their existence?

This is malarkey and it doesn't help that Sanders wraps it up in the same populist billionaire-baiting rhetoric he covers everything in, ideological maple syrup to sweeten what can only be understood as an unprecedented power grab over freedom of speech and the press.

More than two centuries after the constitution was signed, we cannot sit by and allow corporations, billionaires, and demagogues to destroy the Fourth Estate, nor can we allow them to replace serious reporting with infotainment and propaganda.

We must take action—and if we do, I know we can be successful. We can and will restore the media that Joseph Pulitzer and Walter Cronkite envisioned, and that America so desperately needs.

Legacy media have indeed been decimated over the past 25-plus years and the next decade doesn't look so bright either. And yet, there is no question that Americans have more sources of information at our fingertips than ever before. Even left-wingers at The Nation, a publication that rarely misses an opportunity to call for more government control over virtually every aspect of our lives, understand this. Writing in 2014, Tom Engelhardt notes:

There has, in fact, never been a DIY moment like this when it comes to journalism and coverage of the world. Period. For the first time in history, you and I have been put in the position of the newspaper editor. We're no longer simply passive readers at the mercy of someone else's idea of how to "cover" or organize this planet and its many moving parts. To one degree or another, to the extent that any of us have the time, curiosity or energy, all of us can have a hand in shaping, reimagining, and understanding our world in new ways.

Writing a decade ago from a more libertarian perspective, press critic Jack Shafer (then at Slate, now at Politico) similarly captured exactly what eludes Bernie Sanders and others who equate journalism with the health of conventional daily newspapers that flourished in the postwar era.

Journalism has generally benefited by increases in the number of competitors, the entry of new and once-marginalized players, and the creation of new approaches to cracking stories. Just because the journalism business is going to hell and it may no longer make economic sense to maintain mega-news bureaus at the center of war zones doesn't mean that journalism isn't thriving.

Trump has easily been the most-dissected president of all of our lifetimes. That he hasn't been hounded from office yet and stands to win reelection isn't for lack of trying by professional and amateur journalists who have revealed all sorts of information about him and his dealings. Nobody is suffering from a lack of ideologically diverse and in-depth information about every possible topic under the sun. There may well be more chaff mixed in with the wheat, but that's because we now have far more choice of what to read.

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  1. By his own admission, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) isn’t a dyed-in-the-wool socialist who wants the state to actually own the means of production. But he still wants the government to be very much in the mix of just about every sort of business that gets transacted.

    Ah, so he’s a fascist? Has Antifa been informed?

    1. Pretty much the textbook definition of Fascism.

      1. um, no it’s not. [citation missing]. disagree with him all you want, but let’s not pretend he’s more fascist than, e.g., the current POTUS.

        1. um, no it’s not.

          Yup it is. Fascism and socialism are both radical, totalitarian leftist ideologies that primarily differ on their basis for collectivism (class vs nation) and on private property (state-owned vs state-directed).

          disagree with him all you want, but let’s not pretend he’s more fascist than, e.g., the current POTUS.

          Sanders is a textbook Mussolini-style fascist, complete with the socialist/communist background. POTUS may be many things, but he is about as far away from fascism as any politician in recent history.

    2. It is well-known that the invisible line between communism and fascism is infinitely big to socialists.

    3. No, he’s just a communist who’s smart enough to know he has to lie about it.

      This essay is irritatingly credulous. Does any reasonable person think that a red diaper baby like Sanders, with a history of praising despots and dictators, accidentally came up with a plan that would destroy press freedom?

      1. see that’s the problem with you idiots. when someone has a radically different outlook on politics than you do, you assume they must have some malicious motivation.

        A simpler explanation is that he’s probably mistaken about certain things regarding economics etc, and has different values than you, but to act like he’s a hitler/stalin waiting to grab power continually makes you people look silly.

        most lefties don’t assume the right wing trash are maliciously motivated. just mistaken, uneducated, and feeling condescended by people in wealthy, urban areas. Occam’s razor.

        1. most lefties don’t assume the right wing trash are maliciously motivated. just mistaken, uneducated, and feeling condescended by people in wealthy, urban areas.

          Well that’s a pure fucking lie. Leftists have been calling Republicans “Nazis” since the Reagan administration. They used that slur against Reagan, both Bushes, McCain, Romney, and Trump, despite none of them holding those beliefs. The left’s foot soldiers (Antifa), on the other hand, have been attacking people for a couple of years now over political disagreements. The leftists absolutely believe people they disagree with to be evil.

          Which is why, when they lose the upcoming election and decide to riot in the streets, I’m going to push pause on any remaining libertarian ideology I may still hold, and cheer when they get the absolute shit kicked out of them by the cops and the people who don’t hate this country…which is most Americans

          The left believe that anyone to the right of them is evil (which includes liberals). History, on the other hand, proves incontrovertibly that leftists and their ideology are the truly evil ones because of the body count they’ve wracked up and the pain and misery they inflict every time they’ve gained power. History’s also shown that when leftists decide that they can’t win via legal means and decide to move to street violence, the only way to deal with them effectively is to send in the military and the police to ruthlessly crush them and destroy their organizations…because at that point it’s just a race to do it to them before they do it to you.

          1. Technically, they started calling Republicans Nazis back when Wendel Wilkie ran for President. They’d probably have started sooner, but people would have been all, “What’s a Nazi?”.

            1. Haha…classic. 🙂

        2. see that’s the problem with you idiots. when someone has a radically different outlook on politics than you do, you assume they must have some malicious motivation

          Your views are standard socialist/communist propaganda; you probably even believe them.

          A simpler explanation is that he’s probably mistaken about certain things regarding economics etc, and has different values than you

          Do you agree with the wollowing?

          – corporations need to serve the interests of the people and it is the job of the state to enforce that
          – war is good for the economy
          – government spending is good for the economy
          – everybody has a right to education/housing/food/healthcare and government needs to provide it if necessary
          – everybody has a right to a job
          – slavery made the US wealthy
          – the state needs to recognize differences between races and intervene to right past wrongs and unfair conduct by specific racial groups
          – labor has an intrinsic value and businesses should be required to compensate people with a fair wage for it
          – profiteering should be illegal
          – free market capitalism is unjust

          That’s not a list of things Mussolini/Hitler also believed in addition to fascism, that’s a list of the core ideas of fascism. And they are what modern progressives run on and believe, just like progressives a century ago ran on and believed.

          but to act like he’s a hitler/stalin waiting to grab power continually makes you people look silly.

          Hitler and Mussolini didn’t “grab power”, they were democratically elected and then gained totalitarian powers from parliament. They were both popular leaders, and they were popular with American progressives (Mussolini more so) and intellectuals.

          most lefties don’t assume the right wing trash are maliciously motivated. just mistaken

          Leftists widely that everybody who doesn’t follow their beliefs is greedy, selfish, racist, and fascist and many leftists condone violence against who you call “right wing trash”.

          And let’s be clear who the American left calls “right wing trash” and “Nazis”, namely many classical liberals blacks, gays, Jews, and women.

  2. Is there not even one imaginary problem to which Bernie doesn’t have the wrong answer?

    1. cross out Bernie and write in every politician ever

      1. There must have been at least one, some time, who wasn’t like that. I’m hard pressed to think of any that are even close, but there had to have been at least once. Right? OK, never mind, you’re right.

  3. Socialists need to keep the Propaganda machines around.

    1. The real fun will begin soon when all the MSM assholes have their words that they wrote in Twitter and Facebook publicized for all to see/read. Turnabout is fair play….

      1. That’s when the bedbugs will scurry out of the light.

  4. It’s time to get big money out of journalism.

    1. And Bernie has a trillion-dollar plan to do just that!

    2. And all other professions. Ban money!

      1. Or at least inflate it into nothingness.

    3. Let’s get big money out, and big government in!

      1. That’s like saying let’s get sand out of the Sahara and then get sand into the Sahara.

    4. Wr will preserve an independent media by putting journalism on the government teat, no downsides to that at all.

      Does Bernie actually believe government is perfectly disinterested arbiter in all things or is that just a front? In other words, is malicious or just stupid?

      1. Malicious *or* stupid? Embrace the power of ‘and’.

        1. The option I gave was “just stupid”, i.e. stupidity without maliciousness, which implies that the “malicious” option could include stupidity.

  5. Bernie Sanders’ Plan To Save Newspapers Is Wrong on Every Level

    Batshit crazy democratic socialist’s stance on immigration in the Democratic Primaries more sensible than Reason Magazine’s position.

    Can’t wait to read ‘The Democratic Socialist’s Case For Reason Magazine’ article in the coming weeks.

    1. Care to back up these claims?

        1. Understandable. Have a nice day.

  6. “Does anyone in their right mind think, as Sanders does, that a “targeted tax” on online advertising and “tech companies” will actually work to fund “independent public media” that will somehow report earnestly on the very government that ensures their existence?”

    Independent journalists need funding like anyone else. An arrangement where content providers are paid for the content they provide doesn’t seem too out of line with American traditions. Sanders could do journalism a good turn by taking measures to protect whistleblowers.

    1. You mean like NPR and the Propagandists that work there?

      1. “You mean like NPR and the Propagandists that work there?”

        Perhaps a system to allow internet users to transfer frictionless fractions of a cent between each other. Too commie for you?

        1. “”Perhaps a system to allow internet users to transfer frictionless fractions of a cent between each other. “”

          So equivalent to what musicians get from Spotifiy?

          1. Maybe. I’m not familiar with Spotify and I try to avoid musicians. But expecting professional journalism from unpaid content providers is not going to work in the long run.

            1. Who expects professional journalism these days?
              I see very little of it. I mostly see articles spouting opinions. That’s not worth much.

              1. “I mostly see articles spouting opinions. ”

                Opinions are cheap. Professional journalism costs money. I don’t think a system where internet users could transfer small amounts of money to journalists would trouble you much.

                1. “”I don’t think a system where internet users could transfer small amounts of money to journalists would trouble you much.”‘

                  Only if it’s voluntary.

                  1. Has anyone forced you to donate money on Spotify? If not, then my proposal shouldn’t scare you too much.

                    1. “” don’t think a system where internet users could transfer small amounts of money to journalists would trouble you much.””

                      I am an internet use. What if I don’t want to transfer any money to them?

                    2. There is already a way for internet users to pay.

                    3. What exactly is your proposal?

            2. Why cant journalists have GoFundMe accounts or something similar?

              You give good and/or likeable reporters and journalists money to keep doing what they are doing. Charities can donate to good journalists.

              This way journalists make money based on how well they do for their supporters.

              Journalists would hate this because it requires skill in journalism and providing a product people want to pay for.

              1. “Why cant journalists have GoFundMe accounts or something similar?”

                I have no idea. These corporate platforms aren’t to be trusted. They’ve shown again and again they are very sensitive about what sort of views they want to be associated with and have often barred users and censored content.

                “Journalists would hate this because it requires skill in journalism and providing a product people want to pay for.”

                Maybe they hate getting small amounts of money transferred to them. Maybe they would prefer to continue to provide content to companies like Facebook for nothing.

              2. Journalists already make money based on how well they do for their supporters. Unfortunately, there are a lot more supporters who want their side’s narrative than there are who want actual journalism.

    2. So by the logic of your argument, is it fair to say that you believe content providers are not currently being paid for the content they provide? How is that happening?

      I’m pretty sure that slavery is still illegal in the US and I’ve not heard any investigative journalist reports about guns being held to the heads of other journalists. So I’m pretty sure that all those content providers are providing that content voluntarily. And as long as they are doing it voluntarily (and at ever greater volumes), it seems reasonable to assume that they’re getting compensated adequately. After all, if the compensation was inadequate, they’d find something else to do, right? So who are you to interfere with voluntary decisions they’ve already made and continue to make?

      1. ” So I’m pretty sure that all those content providers are providing that content voluntarily”

        I’m sure too. But professional journalism costs money and money is also a great incentive.

        “So who are you to interfere with voluntary decisions they’ve already made and continue to make?”

        Since when is paying someone for work they’ve done interfering with them?

        1. Because what Sanders is proposing (and I assume from your comment that you are endorsing) is massive interference in the transaction. He is proposing compulsory payments far above the rate that the content providers currently find adequate.

          The government doesn’t have some magic pot of money. The increase has to come from somewhere. And in the process, you are distorting the market. So yes, requiring A to pay B more than B was ready to voluntarily accept is interference with both A and B.

          1. “Because what Sanders is proposing (and I assume from your comment that you are endorsing) is massive interference in the transaction.”

            Maybe I’ll look into Sanders’ proposal later if you think it’s worth the effort. At the moment, I’m not interested nor do I care. I posted my own idea, not terribly well developed, and I didn’t mention Sanders or his proposal, simply a way to fund our journalists for the work they do. It’s a non-starter assuming they will work without payment on a long term basis, providing content to some of the world’s wealthiest companies.

            “The government doesn’t have some magic pot of money.”

            Governments can and do tax their subjects. How do you think they pay for all their infrastructure and so on?

      2. So by the logic of your argument, is it fair to say that you believe content providers are not currently being paid for the content they provide? How is that happening?

        Do you pay any subscription fees? I don’t. Advertisers pay for eyes on content, not the content itself. Traditional journalism has been deemed so worthless that its free. I can’t speak to the adequacy of compensation, but people keep writing the stuff, so I guess its adequate, right?

        1. ” but people keep writing the stuff, so I guess its adequate, right?”

          You get what you pay for.

          1. So what does the government get when they pay for it all?

            1. Control

            2. Your name, address,what you read.

          2. Journalism was shitty before the internet pushed news for free.

            1. “Journalism was shitty before the internet pushed news for free.”

              Don’t you welcome the opportunity not to pay for journalism you disapprove of?

  7. a plan that would halt all media mergers if his administration believes they would reduce the number of journalists employed, “adversely affect people of color and women,” or concentrate ownership in fewer hands

    So he will also subsidize newspapers to prevent them going bankrupt when he refuses to let them merge to stay afloat?

    I mean …. going out of business or downsizing would surely also adversely affect employment of journalists and people of color and women, right?

    Also funny how he thinks journalists apparently are never people of color nor women; seems a bit racist to me.

    Typical statist.

    1. Haha. Haven’t you heard? Even global warming “adversely affect(s) people of color and women”.

      The pandering has gotten ridiculous. Some of the “victim class” might even be getting a little offended at their implied helplessness.

  8. Does anyone in their right mind think, as Sanders does, …

    Now we know that Nick does not think Bernie is in his right mind. Is this a clinical or political diagnosis?

  9. Or maybe the public just needs to learn the difference between journalism and editorializing, and then subsidize accordingly.

    1. No subsidies and most MSM outlets are Propagandizing.

    2. That’s giving the public a lot of credit, I think.

  10. People can vote with their dollar. It funny that when people don’t support something with their money voluntarily, Bernie thinks we should force them to via tax dollars.

    1. The left is overflowing with ideas so good that people must be forced to go along with them.

  11. News Flash!
    Bernie does not want to save news outlets. He wants to control them, via the federal government.
    Oh, wait. That is not news, is it?

    1. i doubt that he’s actually that nefarious. A simpler explanation is that he’s just mistaken, not trying to hide some evil plan.

      1. Oh, come on: He’s visited dictatorships and praised them. He was raised by and grew up among Stalinists. He honeymooned in the USSR. (Yes, it was his town’s sister city. Whose idea was that? Yeah, his.)

        In this case, that’s he’s nefarious IS the simplest explanation that is consistent with the facts. That he’s mistaken or stupid is unjustifiably generous.

    2. This thought arose, in my feeble mind, when Mark Suckerberg said he wanted the government to be the one censoring the content on FaceCrack, and other platforms:
      Wouldn’t the government be expected to conform to guidelines that enforced federal law?
      Such as making it clear that support of illegal immigration was not to be tolerated, and that any post, supporting the violation of those laws would be censored.
      Imagine if news outlets could be prevented from giving us the sob-stories of illegals being made to obey the law. What would they write about immigration if they couldn’t do that?

  12. Bernie Sanders: “We should not want even more of the free press to be put under the control of a handful of corporations and “benevolent” billionaires who can use their media empires to punish their critics and shield themselves from scrutiny.”

    Also Bernie Sanders: “When I am president, my administration will put in place policies that will reform the media industry and better protect independent journalism at both the local and national levels… [by allowing me to use the coercive power of the federal government to punish my critics and shield myself from scrutiny.]”

  13. Democrats are always one good plan put in place by smart leftists away from America becoming a Utopia, and they are so pissed at the rest of us who won’t let that happen.

  14. Pretty sure The Bern confuses his buds at NYT with “journalism” in general.
    When the NYT tanks, we’ll be much better off.

    1. You missed it.
      Try to stay awake, as opposed to woke.

  15. he is a savior to an industry that has arguably been battered more by the gale of creative destruction than any other in the past 25 years or so.

    #Learntocode

    1. Yeah, journalists have had to work harder than ever after Twitter was invented. Those that couldn’t keep up just went back to work in the local book or video store, little Mom and Pop’s general store or maybe picked up a shift or two driving a cab.

  16. isn’t for lack of trying by professional and amateur journalists who have revealed all sorts of information about him and his dealings.

    Information like he’s a Russian agent, planted by the Kremlin. Solid, fact-checked, well-sourced information that came from a fake dossier paid for by the Clinton administration. Legacy media can’t die fast enough.

    1. “It isn’t for lack of trying by professional and amateur journalists who have revealed all sorts of disinformation about him and his dealings.”
      There I fixed it. I guess Reason can’t afford a proof reader. Maybe they can get some Bernie Bucks after the election.

  17. Sanders has unveiled a plan that would halt all media mergers if his administration believes they would reduce the number of journalists employed, “adversely affect people of color and women,” or concentrate ownership in fewer hands (sort of a basic goal of all mergers).

    Usually socialists are in favor of concentration.

    1. Media choice = good
      Deodorant choice = bad

      Thus sayeth the Bernmeister.

    2. Only in a camp environment.

  18. Comrade Bernie has the right idea.
    All news outlets must pass the rigorous politically correct requirements sent forth by our loving ruling elitist turds in order that we all may be entitled to the right type of news.
    Otherwise confusion and disruption of our socialist utopia will be infected with the cancer of freedom and open discourse.
    Plus it will open up job openings for censors which are under-employed in this country.
    Nothing but good will come from Comrade Bernie’s ideas.

  19. It’s true that valuable voices in the media have been silenced and something must be done to revive them. For example, right now I’m missing the valuable voice of our old friend Barfman, a voice we need now more than ever.

  20. Who needs paid specialist journalism now that anyone can capture video of an unfolding event and send it to the world in no time? And they’re eager to write about it for free too. Plus plenty of analysis. At no extra cost than their e-mail and the connection they’re paying for already?

  21. Why does Bernie sound more and more like a … conservative? What a weird mix of “government control of every facet of life,” and “Make America Great Again-isms” like this one:

    “We can and will restore the media that Joseph Pulitzer and Walter Cronkite envisioned, and that America so desperately needs.”

    Because Dan Rather, Walter Cronkite, William Buckley, and Seymour Hersch were such fans of the government, and welcomed federal support of their coverage.

    1. Joseph Pulitzer, from wiki (no conservative site): “introduced the techniques of yellow journalism to the newspapers he acquired in the 1880s. He became a leading national figure in the Democratic Party and was elected congressman from New York.
      Walter Cronkite: Cronkite’s public verdict that the 1968 Tet offensive was a “defeat” for the U.S. is widely seen as a turning point in American support for the war. Cronkite falsely claimed that the Vietcong had held the American embassy for six hours and that the offensive “went on for two months.” The facts show that Tet was actually a major defeat for the communist enemy.

      Yeah, them’s some real journalists to be proud of.

      1. A strategic victory, Tet was. The Vietnamese knew that American public support for aggression on Vietnam was the weak point, and they were successfully able to exploit it. After Tet, American presidents talked of ending the war, not winning the war.

  22. does the plan include Reason?

  23. every time reason brings up someone on the left, the alt-right peanut gallery that appears to have taken over a libertarian site floods the comment boards about how sanders and warren are just wannabe Hilters, Stalins, Pol Pots etc.

    Is that how you people actually think? Do you always assume people with different political world views have some sort of Iago-like, motiveless malice. Personally, i think a simpler explanation is that when people don’t agree with me, they are honestly mistaken, i am honestly mistaken, or both of us are honestly mistaken.

    1. You sound Russian to me.

    2. you don’t read much, do you

  24. “Writing in 2014, Tom Engelhardt notes:

    There has, in fact, never been a DIY moment like this when it comes to journalism and coverage of the world. Period. For the first time in history, you and I have been put in the position of the newspaper editor.”

    I agree.

    By extension, papers don’t have a monopoly on controlling information anymore and they’re lashing out. Just look at how they work with social media to shut down, purge or demonetize on youtube independent journalists or channels plainly expressing their opinions.

    They call this ‘fake news’. I say it’s projection.

    It’s worth noting, also, Justin the Impetuous Poptart Lasagne threw $500 million at media as a bail out here in Canada.

    He bought them and hopes they won’t call him a phoney authoritarian retard.

  25. Is he evil, crazy or stupid?

  26. So when Trump calls out Jeff Bezos for publishing “fake news” and threatens him with libel and other actions, he is an authoritarian bully who must be stopped.

    Let’s keep in mind that neither of these is in any way illiberal.

    It would, however, be quite illiberal to prevent people from stating their opinions or suing others for libel.

    1. Demonizing the press is a play right out of anti-liberal regimes. Liberal means tolerating dissent, not threatening dissenters.

      “It would, however, be quite illiberal to prevent people from stating their opinions or suing others for libel.”

      Is Trump actually suing someone for libel, or being prevented from suing someone for libel?

  27. Bernie Sanders doesn’t want government to own the means of production. He just wants government to have all the property rights of all the “privately” owned assets so government can dictate production and how after tax earnings is spent. Hmmm, a distinction without a difference.

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