Barry McCaffrey, hold your ears. The former Clinton administration drug czar might cringe over Libertarians and their joyous reaction to President Obama’s new laissez-faire policy toward medical marijuana. The operative word is “pleased,” says Libertarian National Committee Executive Director Wes Benedict.
“This is a small step in the right direction. The federal government currently wastes tremendous resources in the War on Drugs, creating a huge, vicious, violent black market. This new policy will reduce the damage and destruction, and it will hopefully end some of the unjust prosecution of peaceful medical marijuana providers and patients,” Mr. Benedict says.
“We urge the Obama administration not to stop with this small step, but to take further steps to end the destructive, unjust, unconstitutional War on Drugs,” he adds.
Like we said, hold your ears, Mr. McCaffrey. story. That’s the amount involved for the newly minted Media for Liberty Award, meant “to encourage media entries that explore the link between economic and political liberty.” Calls for entries have now gone out from the Liberty Media Corp., a Colorado-based group with interests in a broad range of electronic retailing, media, communications and entertainment businesses. It has set the bar pretty high. “Economists and political theorists have long debated the relationship between economic liberty (i.e., freedom of individuals to make economic choices in a free-market environment) and political liberty (i.e., freedom from government intervention and fostering of civil liberties). Prominent economists such as Milton Friedman, Friedrich Hayek and Ludwig von Mises, have argued that free economies are conducive to, or even an inseparable element of, political freedom,” the group notes in a lengthy advisory.
Judges for the competition include Allan Dodds Frank, president of the Overseas Press Club of America, and Stacey Woelfel, chairman of the Radio-Television News Directors Association. Guidelines encourage reporting that “challenges conventional thinking or illuminates through experience and fact.”
“Mastery of message and skill in delivery stand out” for print, broadcast and electronic entries published or transmitted during 2009, the group says. Consult www.libertymedia.com for more information. dustry.
“A review of current law strongly suggests that, under present circumstances, a nonprofit newspaper could qualify for tax exemption without the need for legislation by Congress or new rulings by the IRS,” say the sages of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, which has issued a 37-page analysis entitled, “Can Nonprofits Save Journalism? Legal Constraints and Opportunities.”
The Columbia Journalism School has its own version — “The Reconstruction of American Journalism” — penned by former Washington Post Executive Editor Len Downie and Columbia journalism professor Michael Schudson. Among other things, the 100-page report also suggests that news organization operate as nonprofits. The report warranted a big send-off by wonks and lawmakers at the Capitol Visitor Center on Oct. 21.
But wait a minute. Aren’t there a few complications that could arise here?
“We warned of this crazy trend of government-funded journalism just last week when we released our new report ‘The Great Newspaper Bailout.’ ” Dan Gainor tells Inside the Beltway.
The study — written by Mr. Gainor and Catherine Maggio and published by the Business & Media Institute — sets forth a simple but powerful equation: “Government Aid = Government Control.” Mr. Gainor cautions his fellow media analysts.
“At least Downie’s not subtle. His version of the old biased media failed miserably. Now he’s on a jihad to get taxpayers to pay for a new, biased media — this time with billions of our tax dollars. It would still be run by typical lefty journalists, but wouldn’t have any real accountability. Worse still is that Downie will find receptive ears from President Obama and Hill Democrats who want nothing more than to use our money paying off their cronies in the press,” Mr. Gainor says.
“Didn’t anybody in the media read the 1st Amendment? It says ‘Congress shall make no law’ regarding freedom of the press. I thought even Len Downie understood ‘no’ means ‘no.’ ” against the newspaper, along with ProPublica — an independent, nonprofit investigative news group founded by journalists from the Times and other papers.
At issue is “Strained by Katrina, a Hospital Faced Deadly Choices,” a lengthy article that ran in the Times Sunday magazine on Aug. 25, written by Dr. Sheri Fink, a staff reporter for Pro Publica. The 13,000-word account, which cost $400,000 and two years to produce, implied that Dr. Armington, a board certified neuroradiologist, was aware that up to 45 patients at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans had been euthanized during the 2005 hurricane — and did nothing about it.
Dr. Armington claims that Dr. Fink misrepresented herself and sensationalized the story in a quest for a book deal, and that the Times sought to further its “commercial interest” and alliance with the well-funded Pro Publica by publishing it. The paper refused to print a retraction. The physician is claiming reckless defamation of his character, calling the story “the epitome of partisan, ideological and partial journalism.”
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