18 February 2013

Uncommon Commentary #324: The Poor Estate of the Fourth Estate

It's widely recognized in "conservative" circles that the pervasiveness of left-wing bias in the mainstream US media, including what passes for a free press, is a serious liability for our country; it probably gave Obama the presidency in 2008, and almost unquestionably did so in 2012.  I have never, however, heard anyone suggest a remedy for this ill, and so here's my proposal.  Let the news corps continue independently, but require journalists to have licensing from an equally independent, respected third party (i.e., "watchdog", a word that is much overused in this sense); the government would authorize this third party to examine and correct the news media for bias and inaccuracy.  One needs a license to practice law or medicine, or to be a public-school teacher or a private investigator (or even to marry someone or to drive a car), and so why not apply the same standard to journalism? (Under my system, however, newsmen would be held to a much higher standard than, for example, the public-school teachers generally are.)  In fact, this system of licensing could be applied to much more than journalism, even becoming the USA's new way of doing things: a middle ground between the statism demanded by leftists and the so-called-conservatives' endurance in perpetual exasperation over such grave problems as the one that I've discussed in this uncommon commentary.  Many would indubitably regard this as "government overreach", but who has a better idea?