What happens when an industry finds itself in danger of being superceded?
“[W]hen an industry faces a new and significant threat to its profits and powers,” writes James Miller, “it turns to the government for protection.”
If you’re thinking about subsidies to prop up obsolete industries, this time you’re wrong. The industry in question is the mainstream media. To fight back against the bloggers who have challenged their stories and are stealing portions of their audiences, the MSM will do something far more sophisticated than ask for crop subsidies:
“Watch for the MSM to start using their political influence to burden bloggers.
But won’t the First Amendment protect blogs? Unfortunately, courts already hold that many governmental restrictions on speech don’t violate the First Amendment, and I can think of three areas in which the MSM might successfully change laws and regulations to hinder their blogger competitors,” writes Miller.
One of the ways bloggers can be put out of business is by invoking campaign finance reform’blogs which support a particular candidate will be regarded as political contributions. Miller notes that the problem isn’t that work done by bloggers would exceed what is legally permissible but that the bloggers would be buried in paperwork.
“The MSM, of course, would never permit their editorials in favor of a candidate to be considered political contributions,’ notes Miller. Since the definition of a blog is vague, the courts can decide what constitutes one, making sure that rulings do nothing to impinge upon the political freedoms of the MSM.
Libel law is another way the MSM will encourage the government to go after those pesky blogs. The MSM used to fight aggressively against any expansion of libel law, but I predict this soon will change,’ writes Miller. “The MSM can handle the burden of defending itself from libel suits much more easily than bloggers can. By increasing the scope of libel law the MSM would impose costs on all journalists which they, but not bloggers, could absorb.”
This is something that matters to all of us. Blogs have broken the monopoly of the MSM. Without the blogs, you’d probably never have heard of, to pick an example, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Whatever you think about their charges, you deserved to hear them. You wouldn’t have without the blogs.