The papers have been reporting some mixed media news...two encouraging items and one discouraging, although not at all surprising.
On the positive side, Tribune Media has called off its pending sale to Sinclair. I'm happy to see that, since the sale would have created an enormous media company with a strong conservative bent to the news it broadcasts.
Sinclair already forces the local TV stations it owns to air brief news updates within local newscasts that have strong right-leaning and not always accurate opinion disguised as real news. The purchase would have added 42 more stations to the the 181 it already owns, giving it coverage in 70 percent of the U.S., plus cable outlet WGN Worldwide, which Sinclair planned to convert to a FOX-like conservative channel.
The deal was called off after the FCC chairman voiced concerns about side deals Sinclair was making to enable it to continue to control the content of several stations the company had agreed to sell off in order to meet FCC standards for competition in some major markets. Sinclair was trying to bypass rules that encourage competition and help prevent one media company from controlling content -- in this case, news content -- in individual markets.
Another encouraging piece of news is the report from the New York Times that its digital subscription base and revenues are continuing to climb, offsetting losses in print advertising.
The Times says digital subscriptions went up by 20%, to a total of 2.9 million. Add the 900,000+ print subscribers, and the total is now up to 3.8 million subscribers. The increased subscription revenues helped the Times have 2nd quarter profits that exceeded analysts' expectations. "Failing" New York Times? Hardly, thank goodness.
On the disappointing front, a new poll by Axios shows how the White House's constant demeaning of the media is having the desired effect, on his supporters at least. Forty-three percent of Republicans, the survey shows, believe the president should have the power to stop media he feels are "behaving badly." One could reasonably assume, based on the president's tweets and rhetoric, that bad behavior includes being critical of the president, his policies and his allies. "Bad behavior" might also mean reporting on possible presidential misbehavior such as conflicts of interest, conspiring with enemies of America, and telling just a few lies to the American people and to Congress.
Permitting that sort of presidential power moves us another big step toward fascism or tyranny be rather than democracy... something the president and his supporters seem to prefer, based on action and tweets.
It's scary indeed, but we need to keep reminding ourselves that 43% of Republicans still means only about a third of all Americans, when you factor in independents. The majority still has the power, but we need to remember that the power exists only if we vote. Otherwise, we will continue to be held up by a powerful minority.