Should Government Bail Out Newspapers?

This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," March 17, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GLENN BECK, HOST: Nancy Pelosi is now trying to save the newspapers. She is very worried about the fate of San Francisco's Chronicle and other struggling newspapers. So, she's just sent a letter to the Department of Justice urging them to consider allowing newspapers to have more leeway to merge or consolidate in order to survive.

Michael C. Moynihan, he is the senior editor of Reason magazine, a political journal that advocates a variety of libertarian causes.

Michael, she is saying that we should loosen some of the restrictions? Really?

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MICHAEL C. MOYNIHAN, SENIOR EDITOR, REASON MAGAZINE: Well, yes. These are restrictions that she was in favor of in 2000 when the San Francisco Examiner was being shopped by the Hearst Company. But that's old news.

Now, yes, basically what she is saying here is that we sort to loosen up antitrust regulations for these newspapers so they can survive. And it's not entirely clear what that means. And it doesn't amount to a bailout just yet. But — I mean, this seems to be...

BECK: Right.

MOYNIHAN: ... sort of going in that direction. But what — it seems to me is that what it would allow newspapers to do is to band together, and so for instance — and this has been suggested by the way, by a number of independent scholars, that newspapers could band together and then charge content for their online material, which, you know, obviously would be in violation of antitrust regulations.

So, this is one of the things that concerns me, but — I mean, there are too many things to mention in, you know...

BECK: Yes.

MOYNIHAN: ... what concerned me about this.

BECK: You know, can I — can I ask you a question? Michael, have you heard from anybody, any liberal — because I'm a conservative, and I don't like giant corporations. I mean, I don't have a problem with them, but I really have a problem with the mixing of government and corporations. Bad idea.


BECK: Really bad idea.

MOYNIHAN: Corporatism, yes, bad idea.

BECK: U.S. statism, and it doesn't work out well.

MOYNIHAN: Not, not usually. No.

BECK: Yes, so, I have a problem with that.


BECK: I'm trying to find anybody who on the other side who might want to join and be consistent and say — corporate welfare is a really bad idea.

MOYNIHAN: Oh, yes. Well, I would hope to hear such things, and of course, you are leading the show with people crying corporate welfare on AIG and a number of other companies. But look, these are newspapers...

BECK: No, no, no. They're not — no, they're just — they're just saying the bad evil rich guy, but they don't mind the corporations getting the welfare.

MOYNIHAN: Of course, yes.

BECK: ... just the bad evil rich guy.

MOYNIHAN: Trust me — trust me, these are all, you know, other piece to them.

BECK: Yes.


MOYNIHAN: But look — I mean, what — the problem is that it's local news. And everyone loves local news, especially with the newspapers like the Chronicle, which tend to support people like Nancy Pelosi. The thing is, is what they're really worried about are people like you, the people who have radio talk shows like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and all the number of people that are — people who have been doing quite well in this since the Fairness Doctrine ended in 1987.

BECK: Yes.

MOYNIHAN: So, the Fairness Doctrine is gone. And look, you know, is this a correlation and causation that all of a sudden Rush Limbaugh takes off, all of these alternative media outlets take off?

BECK: Yes. Look, here's the problem with newspapers, nobody wants — you get ink all over your hands. I mean, newspapers, I read — I read several newspapers a day, but it's that not.



BECK: It's the — you know, it's the steam engine of our day. It's not the delivery system that anybody wants.


BECK: Quite frankly, I don't think that it's even the news that people want. It's so out of touch with everything that you should let them fail and stop propping them up. My theory is, is that they will fail, and they will use this to go after talk radio, and they'll say, localism, you've got to report — now, there's nobody to report on the city council and the dog catcher minutes.

MOYNIHAN: Yes. Well, a couple of points, the first one being that there are actually newspapers that are doing well, by the way, that are making money, and that's The Wall Street Journal, Investor's Business Daily, people who have change their models and have been smart about it, and didn't buy $1 billion buildings in Manhattan, for instance, that tends to hurt their bottom line.

BECK: Oh, they're selling that now. Yes.

MOYNIHAN: Yes, well — you know, imagine that.

But on localism, you're absolutely right, because look, there is not a huge desire right now to push through the Fairness Doctrine.

BECK: Right.

MOYNIHAN: It's not going to be a terribly popular thing. The other thing that I would say is that the Obama administration likes Rush Limbaugh where he is. Because, Rush, as we know, amongst independents is not terribly popular.

So, they're using him as a cajole to beat the Republicans with. That's fine. They don't want to give him any...


BECK: No, they wouldn't use the politics of old, those old divisive — all right.

All right. Thank you very much. We'll talk — we'll talk again, all right?

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