I think that the Times new media critic Ben Smith – formerly chief editor of Buzzfeed, – is injecting a much needed edge to coverage of journalism and media. He rightly focuses on the pro-Biden, /anti- Sanders coverage that has dominated the recent news cycle. He failed, however, to include the hyped NYT story about Sanders’s relationship with the old Soviet Union when he was mayor of Burlington. Read Masha Gessen in the New Yorker on the de-construction of that story.
What grabbed my attention in Smith’s piece was a reference to Sanders’s “ radical idea of having the federal government provide a $200 citizenship news voucher to all Americans who would then use the voucher to support public media outlets of their choosing.”
I personally think that this is a lousy idea that would have little impact. I’ve got a far better and more radical plan ( he says modestly) to end biased, strident, and partisan broadcasting, especially on cable television.
Here’s what I would do:
1) Re-regulate all of broadcasting and regulate social media ( yes including Facebook) along the lines of emboldening the toothless and feckless FCC. I’d use the British Ofcom regulator as my role model.
That in a heartbeat would end the civil discourse-destroying, media illiteracy-engendering Fox News. Ditto MSNBC. Once again Americans might understand that there is a difference between fact-based analysis and fact -free unsupported opinions. Fox’s Hannity and talk radio’s Limbaugh would face hefty FCC fines if they continued to spew their propaganda. No this isn’t inconsistent with First Amendment rights. Americans, especially journalism and media students, don’t seem to grasp that broadcasting was regulated until the Reagan administration-appointed FCC chairman dissolved the Fairness Doctrine.
2) Earmark from a new wealth tax on the 1% in a Sanders or Biden government a substantial commitment to finance genuine public broadcasting that enables CPB to underwrite PBS journalism – news and current affairs- and end the grovelling local PBS auctions and fundraising..
3) At a time when the BBC is under assault, we’d create a PBS to rival it or my old CBC during its glory years.
Now that’s a radical plan.Bernie and Joe.