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Truth or Censorship: The Legacy Media’s Death Spiral

One of the consequences of the Communications Revolution has been the deterioration of the traditional news media into just another endangered industry clamoring for protectionism.

Once, legacy television and print news outlets believed the technological hurdles and exorbitant costs entailed in providing content to their audiences formed an insurmountable barrier to entry for any potential competitors. To wit: for decades, there had existed only three major national news broadcasts and a handful of newspapers “of record,” like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Further, the number of local stations and newspapers, while competitive, were in effect capped by their respective audiences and advertisers. Over time, this technological and financial insulation resulted in a virtual monopoly upon mass information and, inevitably, the hubris, typified by their claim to be “opinion makers.”

Yet, fate humbles the haughty.

The rise of the internet destroyed both the financial and technological barriers faced by the legacy media’s prospective competitors. The legacy media’s arrogance rendered them slow to recognize the threat and, in many instances, deride their challengers as basement dwelling ne’er-do-wells cosplaying journalists on-line in their parents’ basements.

But these competitors and the social media platforms, such as (then) Twitter and YouTube, were, by circumstances and economics, necessarily designed to be an affordable, efficient, and effective disseminator of original content, including news and opinions. Perhaps more importantly, as business entities specifically designed for social media, these platforms knew how to monetize their users and content.

The legacy media, both nationally and locally, was too slow in responding—if they even could. The shrinking power, profits, payrolls, and prestige of their industry have led to calls for bailouts, most notably for local newspapers, and government protection from competition, including demands for something past generations of legacy media luminaries would find equally inexplicable and unconscionable: censorship.

In fact, this was not the first time the legacy print media faced challenges in its business model and sought government assistance. The Newspaper Preservation Act of 1970, which, in its Congressional Declaration of Policy:

…it is hereby declared to be the public policy of the United States to preserve the publication of newspapers in any city, community, or metropolitan area where a joint operating arrangement has been heretofore entered into because of economic distress or is hereafter effected in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.

Per the learned one who litigated a case involving the law, “effectively let metropolitan dailies combine their business (but not editorial) operations in a Joint Operating Agreement because local markets could no longer support both papers.”

The present situation for legacy media is similar to the one faced by record companies in the 1980s, when they colluded with radio stations to control the music industry and shape public tastes. The inability to monetize their product within the bounds of cyber-space proved a disaster for their corporations, artists, record stores, et. al. Yet, it also proved a boon to individuals who now had a means to produce and disseminate their own music to the masses. In their death throes, the music industry’s corporations and artists appealed for government help to prevent their product—the music created by the artists and purchased and produced by the corporations—from being sold online by unauthorized entities. What the music industry and artists did not do was demand that the works of individual artists who created, produced, and disseminated their own music from being placed online.

But this is precisely the demand made by the legacy media to protect its privileged position as the elite opinion makers in our republic—namely, the stifling of the democratization of information through censorship.

In the legacy media’s death spiral, their opinion-shaping wordsmiths are rarely as honest as that in expressing their motives and aims. Make no mistake, however, when a free press begins advocating for the euphemistic “content moderation” to end “disinformation” and “hate speech” for the alleged sake of “safety” or some other such risible pretext, one can be sure they are not talking about curbing their First Amendment rights.

Colluding with their political cronies, both elected and otherwise, and ironically with Big Tech, the legacy media is targeting any American seeking to participate in the Communication Revolution’s “democratization of information.” In return, there is reciprocity on the part of the legacy media: recall their willingness to falsely condemn and conceal the reportage of another legacy media outlet (the New York Post) when the Hunter Biden laptop story threatened the legacy media’s aligned and preferred candidate’s presidential prospects.

Ah, yes, who better than the legacy media that spent years spreading Russia-gate lies to undermine a duly elected president to determine what the truth is? Still, nothing screams honesty more than a politician, who everyone just loves to death. Why not let the people who are known for their humility, rectitude, and subtlety—the legacy media, politicians, and beloved Big Tech multinational corporations—determine what an appropriate level of “content moderation” is? What is true? What is real? What you can talk about? What you can think about?

What could go wrong?

Everything. There is nothing more dangerous than a censor—especially one who makes their living off the very God-given liberty they seek to deny to their fellow citizens.

You can have either truth or censorship. Unlike the legacy media and their political cronies, choose wisely.

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) served Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003-2012, and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars; and a Monday co-host of the “John Batchelor Radio Show,” among sundry media appearances.

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About Thaddeus G. McCotter

An American Greatness contributor, the Hon. Thaddeus G. McCotter (M.C., Ret.) represented Michigan’s 11th Congressional district from 2003 to 2012 and served as Chair of the Republican House Policy Committee. Not a lobbyist, he is a frequent public speaker and moderator for public policy seminars, and a Monday co-host of the "John Batchelor Show" among sundry media appearances.