A Government Bailout For The New York Times?
By Don Feder
Monday January 5, 2009

Here’s an idea so atrocious that that it should send shivers down the spines of those who are fighting media bias — forcing taxpayers to subsidize said bias.

Many newspapers are in serious financial trouble, due to a number of factors — including alienating former subscribers with bias so blatant that it leaps off the pages.

The New York Times saw its ad revenue fall 16.2% from October 2007 to October 2008. Last year, its stock lost 66.8% of its value. The paper is planning to take out a $225-million mortgage on its Manhattan headquarters to cover operating deficits.

No surprise, then, that one of the bright boys in the mainstream media wants a bailout for the liberal press. A Reuters story, “Government Aid Could Save U.S. Newspapers, Spark Debate,” is a trial balloon.

Former Miami Herald editor Tom Fiedler, now the dean of the Boston University School of Communications, thinks it’s a capital notion. “I truly believe that no democracy can remain healthy without an equally healthy press,” Fiedler confides. “Thus it is in democracy’s interest to support the press in the same sense that the human being doesn’t hesitate to take medicine when his or her health is threatened.”

If the public must subsidize failing newspapers, why not television news shows, radio stations and Internet news sites as well?

Of course, Washington can’t provide a bailout to every newspaper that’s on the verge of going under. So which newspapers get bailed out and which are allowed to close? Clearly media outlets favored by the political elite will get the subsidies — The New York Times and not The Washington Times, The Washington Post and not The New York Post.

Instead of promoting democracy, newspaper bailouts would short-circuit the democratic process. Every time you buy (or subscribe to) a newspaper, you’re voting with your dollars for those you trust to report the news accurately and objectively.

Just as it is intent on overriding consumer choice regarding talk radio (by resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine), the left wants to force consumers to bailout its pet press.

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Arthur Sulzberger Jr.
Publisher – publisher@nytimes.com
Bill Keller
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Andrew Rosenthal
Editorial Editor – editorial@nytimes.com
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