I guess freedom of the press is contingent on who owns the presses….
Paul Krugman points out what is obvious, while the rest of the journalistic pack looks the other way and whistles tunelessly.
But my purpose in today’s column is not to bash Fox. I want to address a broader question: Will the economic interests of the media undermine objective news coverage?
For most of the last 50 years, public policy took it for granted that media bias was a potential problem. There were, after all, only three national networks, a limited number of radio licenses and only one or two newspapers in many cities. How could those who controlled major news outlets be deterred from misusing their position?
The answer was a combination of regulation and informal guidelines. The “fairness doctrine” forced broadcast media to give comparable representation to opposing points of view. Restrictions on ownership maintained a diversity of voices. And there was a general expectation that major news outlets would stay above the fray, distinguishing clearly between opinion and news reporting. The system didn’t always work, but it did set some limits.
Over the past 15 years, however, much of that system has been dismantled.
Will media critics Micky Kaus and Howard Kurtz take up the story, or just beat the messenger? Do you really have to ask?