One useful test of bias is if a person – or media outlet – comes down on the opposite side of exactly the same question depends on what is politically convenient at the time. Say, spending is good if done by a person in a party supported, bad if done by a person in a party not supported. This is good if my people do it, not good if they do.
The Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis episode with Disney is a good test of this contention. We are not taking a view on what either party, DeSantis or Disney, has done or will do. At this moment we just want to point to the bias in the reactions from certain corners of the media.
Vox tells us that “Ron DeSantis’s attack on Disney obviously violates the First Amendment.” The argument is that Disney said some things, and accordingly, the tax arrangements for Disney were changed. This then violates Disney’s First Amendment right to free speech.
Well, it’s an argument. The Intercept seems to agree given its headline: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Attacks on Disney May Violate First Amendment.”
But think back to the Citizens United case, the effect of which was to allow corporations to spend money on politics. But the actual issue up for discussion was do corporations have First Amendment rights to free speech? If they do then they should be able to spend money on political speech just like regular folk.
Whatever we think of the answer there it was in fact that corporations do have those rights – and didn’t every progressive in the country complain bitterly about that? Including, of course, both Vox and The Intercept. Allowing corporations free speech would be the very death of participatory democracy.
Vox claims to “explain the news” and gains some 23 million visits a month as it attempts to do so. There’s also a substantial video and YouTube operation. The Intercept is an entirely independent foundation funded by parts of Pierre Omidyar’s eBay fortune and gets 4 million or so visits.
We’re likely to see more of this argument in the days to come. Progressives are going to keep telling us that Disney’s First Amendment rights have been violated. Those very rights to free speech that their opposition to Citizens United means they think Disney shouldn’t even have.