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“Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that be limited without danger of losing it.”

– Thomas Jefferson to John Jay, 1786

Thomas Jefferson never could have imagined what would become of the free press in America.

But don’t blame Jefferson. As I have chronicled before, Jefferson and his colleagues didn’t have much experience with the free press. That’s because he and the other American Founding Fathers all but invented it.

That’s right. You don’t hear or read much about this history any more. But it’s true. The free press is an original America idea like baseball and jazz.

And like baseball and jazz, there have been a few changes in the rules and craft along the way.

Like what?

I was stunned to learn recently about an American “news agency” that has been subsidized by the U.S. government to the tune of $364 million over the last 10 years.

Have you heard about this? It’s one of the biggest outrages I’ve ever encountered. Hat tip to the Media Research Center.

Internews was founded by a self-described Marxist, has been supported by George Soros and is avowedly committed to what it calls “progressive,” meaning left-wing, reporting.

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In 2011 alone, Internews was given $52,350,784 in government grants, according to its 990 tax forms. This made up 92.4 percent of the $56,644,153 in total reported revenue for that year.

Now, I have to tell you, the idea of government support for any news organization is repugnant to me – and should be to all Americans. That’s why it’s an ethical breach of monumental proportion for any journalist to hang his or her hat at NPR or PBS. It’s criminal that Congress continues to fund select media corporations like this.

At least everyone knows about NPR and PBS. And, yes, everyone knows they are liberal, which is another word for statist. Naturally, if you are supported by the state you answer to the state. And that’s why it’s immoral for the state to fund media enterprises – directly or indirectly.

But Internews is in a class by itself. For instance, the global director for Internews’ environmental program calls giving climate-change skeptics equal time “false balance.” In other words, this is one-sided, left-wing propaganda on steroids.

I’m scandalized by the fact that taxpayers are forced to pay hundreds of millions of dollars for a propaganda news agency no one has ever heard of.

For $364 million, where’s the TV station? Where’s the newspaper? Where’s the website?

For comparison purposes, that’s more money than WND has spent since its founding in 1997 – long before Internews was founded. And one thing everyone agrees with is that WND has created a very large media footprint.

I’m not sure what offends me more – that I am forced to support Internews with my tax dollars precisely because of its left-wing slant or that I have to support an operation so woefully ineffective and wasteful. Pick your poison.

How do you think Thomas Jefferson would feel about that?

It does bug me that being a faux journalist or media organization, not committed to watchdogging government but rather serving it, is so easy.

You don’t even need an audience!

Take CNN, please, as my old friend Henny Youngman might say.

CNN averages 78,000 viewers over the course of each day.

Keep in mind, there is a captive audience in every airport in the country – and many around the world. You would think that captive audience alone would be able to draw 78,000 at any moment. But no, even those who have no choice apparently don’t watch CNN.

Why?

I suggest because so few are interested in what CNN produces. Would CNN ever expose a scam like Internews? No way. CNN wouldn’t even see a story there. CNN operates like the state-run media without the subsidy. Most of its competitors do, too.

And that’s another reason Thomas Jefferson, one of the political architects of the free press, is probably turning over in his grave.

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