Today the Federal Trade Commission issued its draft report on "the reinvention of journalism." At page 15 of the report, the FTC proposes to provide "direct and indirect" financial assistance to journalists.
Journalists should think long and hard before accepting federal money, because Democrats have made clear in recent weeks that federal funds come at a high price -- the forfeiture of the recipient's First Amendment rights.
In fact, that very point is a central component of the DISCLOSE Act, proposed by Senator Schumer and others (and endorsed by President Obama) in response to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. The DISCLOSE Act would prohibit certain recipients of federal funds from exercising their First Amendment rights. As Senator Schumer's summary of the legislation puts it, "Corporations that received bailout funding from the federal government should not be permitted to use taxpayer money to influence elections."
Of course, the "bailout" recipients who would lose their First Amendment rights are TARP bailout beneficiaries. But the Democrats' reasoning applies equally well to an FTC journalism bailout. Journalists, beware: he who pays the piper calls the tune.