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FTC to train, tax, regulate, pay journalists

by Ann Kredda Bull

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Federal Trade Commission today announced plans to "rescue the free press in America" by regulating internet journalism with a suite of new taxes and incentives.

"Too many newspapers are going out of business," FTC Chairman Leo B. Reshnev said Tuesday. "There is too much competition from the Internet, which is not producing the income that news organizations need to stay in business. Right wing extremists, such as Limbaugh, Drudge and Hannity are stealing news from the worldwide web, and now they will pay for it."

Reshnev said funds collected from new use fees will be redistributed to traditional journalists who have experience in objective news reporting.

"Ideally we would like to see one-sided news commentators phased out and objective news reporters paid through a national fund for journalists," Reshnev said.

"We want to see more fair and balanced journalism, such as the quality reporting we are accustomed to seeing in the New York Times and the Washington Post and on CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC. We want to reward quality objective journalists, such as Helen Thomas, Dan Rather and former National Public Radio news anchor Bill Moyers."

President Barack Obama's Internet Czar Joe S. Tollen said he has created a new federal corporation to collect funds, distribute journalists' salaries and bonuses, "judge the correctness" of news, and reward tax credits to journalists who closely conform with governmental standards.

"We are almost ready to announce who will be chosen to lead the Corporation for Responsible and Uniform Description (CRUD), which will be based on the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)," Tollen said.

"CRUD will be charged with ensuring that the public is presented with accurate information. We don't want companies such as Fox News to give air time and space to discredited extremists, such as Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and Sarah Palin.

"If a CRUD agent signs a journalist's paycheck, there is a much greater likelihood that the journalist will take steps to ensure that his or her reports give proper emphasis to the facts as we see them."

He said the leading contenders for CRUD director are Chris Matthews of NBC, former UPI White House reporter Helen Thomas, and ABC's chief political correspondent George Stephanopoulos. Matthews worked on the staffs of six different nationally known Democrat politicians, Thomas was known for supporting Democrats and liberal causes, and Stephanopoulos was a top aide to President Bill Clinton.

Former Democrat adviser Will Fullemall, the new director of the Public Radio And Video Directors Association (PRAVDA) said his agency's chief goal is to train a new corps of journalists who display skill and judgment.

"Young people who demonstrate an ability to differentiate between fact and fiction will be encouraged through tuition waivers and grants," he said. "Those who tend to be deceived by propaganda, particularly talk radio, will be invited to turn to other careers.

"PRAVDA training will involve comprehensive study of issues with an emphasis on development of analytical skills. The objective is to create an army of quality journalists, such as those who work for the government in National Public Radio (NPR) and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS)."

Senate President Harry Reid said Congress is squarely behind the FTC's efforts to rescue journalism.

"In the 24 years that I've served in the Senate," he said, "I might have taken for granted that at least 90 percent of the national media have supported the efforts of Congress to provide more services to Americans.

"It wasn't until the past few years that their efforts have been diluted by absolutely horrible talk radio hosts and Internet bloggers who do everything they can to discredit hardworking Senators and Congressmen and Congresswomen who have been doing their best to see that wealthy Americans pay their fair share of taxes so that the less fortunate majority can receive help.

"So it is with pleasure that I endorse the FTC as it seeks to reduce the influence of those who criticize everything we are trying to do as it restores journalism to the mutual respect that we once enjoyed."

A deputy press secretary for former President Jimmy Carter said the FTC's announcement is a welcome relief after "the abomination that was the Supreme Court's rejection of McCain-Feingold."

Cam Payne said before McCain-Feingold the press was constantly harassed by right-wing extremists who were able to propagandize through advertising paid by contributors.

"MF leveled the playing field," he said, "because it stopped both sides from raising money from corporations. The media could tell us the truth, and we weren't corrupted by private interests.

"When the Supreme Court overturned a lot of MF, it threw everything into disarray. It became a lot harder for the press to show the truth without the other side trying to confuse everybody.

"The FTC, working with CRUD and PRAVDA, will make things right again. Americans don't need to hear all that crap on Fox News. We don't need to hear both sides; we just need to hear the right side."

Quote of the Day

"If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech." — ” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Link of the Day

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