Among the many items tucked into the Democrats' massive $3.5 trillion "human infrastructure" bill is a giveaway to some of their friends in the mainstream media. Specifically, the bill includes $1.3 billion in tax subsidies to local newspapers in the form of payroll tax credits for each journalist employed by a newspaper. It applies to outlets with fewer than 750 employees and that "primarily serve the needs of a regional or local community."
Democrats argue the subsidies will help sustain the struggling newspaper industry, which has lost over half of its total employment since 2008. But Republicans warn the subsidies will likely go to outlets that are more favorable to the left, while ignoring conservative or right-leaning outlets. Tim Graham with the Media Research Center shares those suspicions. "It sounds like they're saying to these outlets you're going to like us a lot, we're going to subsidize your jobs, and then you're going to give us coverage," he tells KTRH. "It's basically a very large bribe."
The other argument from Republicans is these subsidies are not necessary. Newspapers have been failing for years due to the shift to digital and online media, and Americans' trust in newspapers (and media in general) is now at an all-time low. "Democrats and socialists have this urge to say if something is a social good, then we should put money into it," says Graham. "So if we think reporting is a good thing, then you know what it needs...massive federal subsidies."
But the biggest insult of all, according to Graham, is that a provision like this is part of a so-called human infrastructure bill. "They're now trying to say to us that the media are infrastructure," he says. "Everything that they want to pour trillions of dollars into they call infrastructure."
"The media loves the whole idea that democracy doesn't work without liberal journalists pushing it along," he continues. "Then at the same time they try to say conservative media is basically some sort of poison."