The first was a hearing convened by Senator John Kerry on Wednesday to air some possible fixes for an entire industry. It’s the kind of session that should bring out rugged coverage from skeptical reporters, except that the business in question was their own.
Given the government’s willingness to bail out stricken industries, it probably seemed reasonable to look at some forms of relief for the news media. James M. Moroney III, executive vice president of A. H. Belo and publisher of The Dallas Morning News, spoke at the hearing, suggesting that the losses of recent years should be put against the earnings of years past and that the industry get special treatment in the form of tax breaks.
While he was at it, Mr. Moroney suggested that the government should pass legislation guaranteeing newspapers “reasonable compensation” from Internet companies that reproduce content without paying for it.
Senator Benjamin L. Cardin, Democrat of Maryland, has introduced a bill he calls the Newspaper Revitalization Act that would treat newspapers as educational nonprofit entities with a kind of tax status similar to churches, hospitals and public broadcasters. In exchange for that most-favored-nation status, the industry would trade in what would seem to be one of the bedrocks of a truly free press, the right to endorse candidates for public office.
Comment: They might lose the so-called "right," but you can bet the media would become the exclusive tool of the incumbent, not that they aren't already.