Michael Copps, a Federal Communications Commissioner, warns that if you propose government funding for newspapers, then “[s]ome guy is probably going to be on cable screaming up and down saying you’re Mao Zedong.” He seems to be scoffing at the notion that such funding is akin to a totalitarian effort at thought control. But should he be so sure?
Copps himself cites the ideas of Robert McChesney, a professor at the University of Illinois and founder of the group Free Press. Randolph May writes about McChesney at the Free State Foundation blog, noting some quotes that show McChesney clearly embraces the socialist label for himself. More importantly, the quotes reveal that McChesney sees government funding of news as essential to the socialist project to overthrow capitalism. For example, he has written:
Instead of waiting for the revolution to happen, we learned that unless you make significant changes in the media, it will be vastly more difficult to have a revolution. While the media is not the single most important issue in the world, it is one of the core issues that any successful Left project needs to integrate into its strategic program.
So that’s the provenance. McChesney’s notion of what kind of journalism deserves taxpayer support is tied to his political preferences. How could government funding of news not end up being used by those in power for political purposes? May has more thoughts on this topic at the Free State Foundation blog.