The Federal Communications Commission’s Chief Diversity Officer, Mark Lloyd, wants government to socialize the media. In his 2006 book Prologue to a Farce, Lloyd calls for a far-reaching government program that would straitjacket private media companies and funnel tens of billions of dollars into a tax-supported “public” media–an agenda shared by many of his associates. A massive nonprofit media run by the state would better inform Americans, Lloyd claims, although, feeling generous, he allows that “there should be a place for private communications services in a republic.”
You might think this radical call for government control of the media is at odds with the First Amendment and the ideals of its authors. Not according to Lloyd and his fellow travelers, who portray their vision of a government-funded press as a continuation of the American tradition. The Founders, they say, weren’t committed to protecting a profit-seeking press from government control. Instead, their primary concern was making sure the press could effectively educate and inform Americans, and they obsessively sought to subsidize the press in order to achieve that goal.
Let’s review the facts. During the founding era, America was buzzing with newspapers–all of them privately owned and for-profit. Profit-seeking was so much a part of the American press that, as Professor Paul Starr notes, “The word