I jumped on Glenn Reynolds before on his self-declared libertarianism in regards to public servivces and education. Now, I'm jumping on him in regards to media consolidation. I don't find this at all consistent with libertarian philosophy.
The Instapundit seems to think that once an ownership company has the power to start firing writers from disparate parts of it's media empire, that company has too much power. Specifically:
If people who write for one outlet have to think about pleasing not just one boss, but a plethora of them, then people will write a lot fewer criticisms. And if most outlets are controlled by a small number of conglomerates, we’ll read fewer criticisms, as a result.
Yeah, Gregg Easterbrook's kick in the pants from ESPN and subsequent historical article cleansing were bad moves from a PR, business, and customer service standpoint. But ESPN and it's parent company(ies) have every right to fire and hire whomever they want, to their detriment or benefit. Mr. Reynolds approvingly quotes Stanford law professor Larry Lessig:
If ESPN fired Easterbrook because it overreacted to his comment, then that’s an injustice to Easterbrook, and a slight to society. But it it fired Easterbrook because Easterbrook criticized the owner, that’s an offense to society, whatever the injustice to Easterbrook - at least when fewer and fewer control access to media. No doubt, anti-semitism has done infinitely greater harm than misused media mogul power. But if firing your critics becomes the norm in American media, then there will be much more than insensitivity to anti-semitism to worry about in the future.
I feel it is far more offensive to impose blanket media ownership limits on businesses (and, by direct extension, their Free Speech and property rights) than this case.
UPDATED 9/26/2005 2:38pm
He hasn't been paying attention to An Intellectually and Morally Serious Antiwar Movement.
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