Accuracy in Media

The Wall Street Journal, which says it stands for “free markets and free people,” takes $5 million from the federally-funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting to produce a weekly public-TV show called Journal Editorial Report. Still, it had the audacity to run a September 29 editorial denouncing former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for not doing enough to cut back the size of the “federal Leviathan.” The editorial griped about Republicans passing “a giant new Medicare entitlement,” the prescription drug program. But there was no complaint about federal spending on public TV and radio. Isn’t that interesting?

Whatever happened to “free markets and free people” in the marketplace of ideas? Does it make any sense for the Journal, whose parent company is the multibillion dollar conglomerate Dow Jones, to take federal money?

In criticizing the Journal on this matter, we are only following the philosophy that guides the paper. The Journal says it stands for “free trade and sound money; against confiscatory taxation and the ukases of kings and other collectivists; and for individual autonomy against dictators, bullies and even the tempers of momentary majorities. If these principles sound unexceptionable in theory, applying them to current issues is often unfashionable and controversial.”

So let’s apply that philosophy to the Journal taking federal money to produce a public-TV show.

As for DeLay, he was quoted as saying that all the fat had been cut from the federal budget. Clearly, that’s not true. And if he thought about it, we’re sure he would agree with us that the Journal shouldn’t be getting federal funds to do a TV show. 

It’s testing time for the Wall Street Journal and the conservatives it claims to represent. As we said in a press release, at a time when some of our fellow citizens have lost everything and are in desperate need of federal assistance, it makes complete sense for Congress to find some of the money by eliminating taxpayer subsidies for public TV and radio. Over a 10-year period, the savings could produce $5.6 billion for hurricane victims.

In what has been dubbed “Operation Offset,” the 110-member Republican Study Committee has offered a long list of proposed spending cuts to compensate for the billions of dollars the federal government will need in reconstructing the Gulf coast since Katrina. One offset is an end to federal funding of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

The bottom line is that the Wall Street Journal does not need or deserve $5 million from the taxpayers. Few people watch the show anyway. Give the money back to the taxpayers. You can afford to.

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