74% of those surveyed in a recent Rasmussen poll said they are opposed to the notion recently unearthed in an FTC navel-gazing study of the media under which they proposed taxing the internet to help fund ailing newspapers.
The respondents consistently supported the idea that newspapers are on their own on this one. They strongly opposed taxing electronic devices like computers, Kindles and iPads; they were strongly opposed to taxing websites like “The Drudge Report,” and they were absolutely revolted by the idea of taxing cell phones, with 84% rejecting that idea.
Apparently, consumers don’t even want to study the issue. Asked about a Dan Rather proposal to have the White House create a commission to look into saving journalism jobs, it was voted down 55% to 25%.
RBR-TVBR observation: A taxpayer-funded press is ultimately a government funded press, and it therefore ceases to be a truly free press. Our founding documents provide for freedom of the press, but not the funding of the press. There is a good reason for that.
We are generally not fans of polls such as this – it seems to be an unfortunate fact of life that many US citizens do not pay very close attention to what’s going on in Washington and elsewhere, and often have only the most superficial awareness of the pros and cons in a given issue.
For example, in this poll, we doubt seriously that many carefully weighed the need for an informed electorate, the constitutional issues, the financial issues facing journalism across all media, and the questions about the as-yet unproven reliability of the internet to fill the pure reporting gap that would open up if newspapers were to suddenly disappear.
We suspect the negative reaction recorded by Rasmussen is simply to the word “tax.”
But whatever the reasoning of the poll respondents, we agree with their conclusion. We’d like to find a way to save newspapers, but public funding is not it.