Sunday, March 29, 2009

Since When Do Politicians Care About Newspapers?

Matt Negrin writes:

Why would politicians -- who thrive on mastering control of their carefully crafted messages -- step up to the plate to help newspapers, which have a history of uncovering political secrets and at times bringing down elected officials?

"[Pelosi]'s been a big fan of newspapers her whole life," spokesman Brendan Daly said to the Chronicle about the California Democrat's letter to the attorney general. "She wants to ensure their survival, but is also very concerned about antitrust laws."

But not all of Washington's suits are backing dead-tree journalism. Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, earlier this month took partial credit for the Rocky's death and argued it was "mostly for the better."

Still, even extreme ideas like shoring up a federal bailout for newspapers isn't a totally new idea. But the problem lies in what makes newspapers unique -- their inherent objectivity and independence from government. The fourth estate operates as the most established watchdog of public office. If federal, taxpayer dollars were injected into its ink, could the press on one hand thank the government for the help but on the other hand continue to ask dogged questions of leaders?


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