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Media of State

Poor Ezra Klein really got it in the neck yesterday from the Reason crew, following his tepid argument [1] for state-funded journalism based on examples in Sweden and Britain. Matt Welch kicked off [2] with a cruel (and funny) attack on Klein’s prose style, then eviscerated his case for public-service media. Michael C Moynihan agreed with his editor [3], saying that Klein “insists upon holding forth on subjects with which he seems unfamiliar.”

I am completely unfamiliar with the Swedish press, so shouldn’t hold forth, but I know a little about the BBC, having wasted many, many hours moaning about it. Klein is, as Moynihan notes, wrong when he says that the Beeb “need not compete on grounds of sensationalism.” The BBC today is the greatest dumb-downer on earth. It patronizes the pants off its audience by softening hard news with twinkling music to ensure the viewer or listener knows the appropriate mood. It lavishes tax-and-license payer cash on as much celeb-trash content as possible. And any Briton can tell you about the BBC’s irritating Lefty-liberal bias, its maddening PC orthodoxy, and its subservience to the multi-culti state.

Would we be better off if the BBC were scrapped, though? The Beeb does do lots of things very well. TAC contributing editor Stuart Reid listed them in an excellent defense [4] of Auntie last year. (Scroll down to November, 2008).

This might be an issue on which conservatives and libertarians part ways. But you don’t have to be a reactionary fogey to appreciate something like the World Service, which helped American soldiers know what was going on in Iraq when their commanders didn’t offer them a clue. I doubt that such a station could exist in a private sphere.

That’s not to say that a comparable United States Broadcasting Corporation would benefit America. Far from it. But public service media is not always and altogether bad.

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#1 Comment By Colin On July 8, 2009 @ 9:58 am

Well stated on the bbc.
We are increasingly frustrated with its all too obvious bias that is getting worse as we near the election next year.
Hopefully Thompson and his motley crew will leave when the government changes and go into retirement or lefty think tanks with their platinum pensions intact.

#2 Comment By Sean Scallon On July 8, 2009 @ 10:09 am

I’m sorry but as a journalist if I need taxpayer support to stay afloat I might as well just quit. There’s no point in it if one day I have to bite the hand that feeds me. It’s one thing to be a created public entity, knowing what you are, and quite another to go from private to public, to being on welfare, a ward of state. People know it and react accordingly.

#3 Comment By stafford cripps On July 8, 2009 @ 11:45 am

shhhhhh, freddy, don’t tell the americans. they’ll think you’re a socialist. and thats the end of any discussion about anything…

#4 Pingback By Libertarians Beat Up On Ezra Klein, Part II Or I’ll Drink Your Juice-Box « Around The Sphere On July 8, 2009 @ 2:43 pm

[…] Freddy Gray in TAC […]

#5 Comment By Barney Rebble On July 8, 2009 @ 4:44 pm

Yeah, I’m afraid I *will* have to step in here and demonstrate that the Americans have the perfect answer.

The US political left (some disguised as “alternate reality” conservatives), first need to get us all ginned up over abuse of some popular patriot, perhaps in the mold of Sarah Palin.

Then we will simply pass a law, such as HB 1966:

“SEC. 3. CYBERBULLYING.
(a) Whoever transmits in interstate or foreign commerce any communication, with the intent to coerce, intimidate, harass, or cause substantial emotional distress to a person, using electronic means to support severe, repeated, and hostile behavior, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned…”

We can trust our local and federal DAs to decide exactly what “bullying” means. (For example, here in Oklahoma, USA, the definition of “pornography” is *anything* that offends the sensibilities of the majority of 12 “average” people comprising a jury. This is the exact formal definition of pornography in our state. Currently included in this, is the fact that it is against the law to publically display the picture of a minor, then identify them, as to name or address. That is, the “credits” that run after every movie, break our state laws, as do family photo album websites.)

One of the key provisions of this legislature (Congress 111, HB 1966) is that it nullifies the concept of “double jepardy”, in that the fed can add additional punishment (re-try, add additional charges, etc., without a preliminary appeal), if the local authorities were perceived not to have acted harshly enough.

The immaturity of the US legal system can be elegant in it’s simplicity (although a bit messy in actual implementation…). Gonna be an interesting next few years, on all sides of the ocean.

#6 Comment By Barney Rebble On July 9, 2009 @ 7:45 am

Clint Eastwood (reading a script, playing a character), said, “A man’s got to know his limitations”.

We know that the “elite” reached the truth sometime this morning, before we woke up. We therefore cannot hope to “connect the dots”, nor “teach”, nor even significantly “edify”. We will limit ourselves (depending on how many layers thick is our skin, or how many layers deep is our sense of humor) to self-gratification.

But state-run media, in the style of the old country, is similar to the illusion of freedom in the US (heavily punished by the authorities when it strays).

In the UK, look for people who know they are a “ruled people”, to distract themselves from the reality that they are separated from the ruling class, by watching the spectacle of those rulers pretend to tear into each other over their “expense accounts” (and “misuse” thereof).

In the US, with our illusion of democracy, one can watch with amusement how a memo will go out from the “ruling class”, such as “today, we are going to hate “transfats” and “Palin””. Suddenly, our best and brightest begin to realize, “You know, I’ve hated each of these for years, and I suddenly feel motivated to rationalize why”.

Our equivalent of the absurd “UK expense gate”, is our president handing us a $2 trillion bill for “saving or creating jobs”, while chanting “Who ya’ gonna trust? Me, or those lying “naysayers” who would try to convince you that I spent the money on political favors?”.

On the international level, we see the G8, after scientists confidently predicted that the earth’s temperature *may* go up 1 degree (centigrade) within 100 years, gleefully agree that (for only a “little” price), they will limit the earth to a 2 degree rise in temperature (above which, *all* sane scientists predict lies “chaos”).

Pay no attention to the fine print: (for only a “little” price)

Is it any wonder then, that countries that can’t afford to “pay attention”, also can’t afford comprehensive state-run media (which covers “government Edicts”, “News”, and of course, “self-gratification”)? These then are the countries that refuse to go along with the “good” countries that are going to control the earth’s temperature (for only a “little” price).

“A man’s got to know his limitations”.