The Obama administration and its Democrat colleagues in Congress seem determined to rob Americans of one freedom after another.  From health care reform to economic recovery, the administration continues to rely on greater federal control and top-down policies. 

Now they’re looking to curb free speech.

As I wrote earlier this month, the FTC recently released a report, Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism aimed at addressing “the challenges faced by journalism in the Internet age.”  Some of the recommendations they put forth include increasing postal subsidies for newspapers and periodicals, implementing new taxes on websites like The Drudge Report, and adding taxes to new consumer electronics.

Now Adam Thierer, President of the Progress & Freedom Foundation in Washington, DC has reviewed the book that inspired the FTC’s report in this month’s issue of City JournalThe Death and Life of American Journalism by Robert McChesney and John Nichols outlines what the author’s describe as a “radical” agenda for the future of media.

According to Thierer:

McChesney and Nichols model their $35 billion annual “public works” program for the press after the Works Progress Administration of the New Deal era. Their media WPA would include a “News AmeriCorps” for out-of-work journalists, a “Citizenship News Voucher” to funnel taxpayer support to struggling media entities, a significant expansion of postal subsidies, a massive new subsidy for journalism schools, corporate welfare for newspapers sufficient to pay 50 percent of the salaries of all “journalistic employees,” and more. Using its growing lobbying muscle in Washington, Free Press promotes the McChesney-Nichols plan under the framework of a “National Journalism Strategy,” a veritable industrial policy for the press that resembles a Soviet-style five-year plan.

McChesney, Nichols, and the media reformistas at Free Press rest their case for “massive public intervention” into the news business on several dubious assertions: commercial journalism is dying, and nothing can save it; news has always been a “public good” and would be better provided through noncommercial means; and America has a long history of public subsidies for the press—even the Founders would endorse an expansive role for the state to “save the news.”

Thierer does a great job dissecting the book and pulling out the key points from the three-hundred plus pages.  “What McChesney, Nichols, and Free Press essentially advocate,” he writes, “is a radical form of media redistributionism—with struggling private entities and others forced to fund public or non-commercial media outlets.”

He continues:

What these regulatory advocates seek is not so much a bailout for the familiar private media that has served America so well for two centuries, but rather a massive wealth transfer from one class of media to another, with the stipulation—which they repeat numerous times—that state-subsidized entities are to forgo private advertising revenues, copyright protection, and any affiliation with corporate parents. These restrictions are an essential part of their push for a “post-corporate,” government-controlled press.

If you’re concerned about what the administration is proposing when it comes to controlling the media and the First Amendment, check out McChesney and Nichols book. It’s all right there.