Conservatives are taking aim at the Democrats' Build Back Better Act. They claim it undermines the First Amendment.
The problem is found in a small part of the massive proposal. It’s called the Local Journalism Sustainability Act. It's a payroll tax credit, a subsidy, for a newspaper publisher that serves the needs of a local community or region. Supporters say it's aimed at helping local media outlets hit hard by the pandemic. However, Jeff McCall, a media studies professor at DePauw University, says it could be seen as a bribe for favorable coverage.
“Local journalism does need support,” McCall said. “We do need solid journalism in this nation. The question here is whether the government should be providing the direct benefit because that does compromise the coverage at some degree or another.”
Conservatives have accused Democrats in Washington of trying to bribe the media for favorable news coverage.
“I think it’s really important for government as much as possible to stay out of the news business altogether,” McCall explained. “We’re expecting the news industry to provide surveillance of the government, and it’s hard to do that when they are being distracted or relying on government subsidies.”
McCall also says news organizations should also be willing to reject government handouts in favor of their independence.