News Media and the State

U.S. news media have a peculiar way of reporting U.S. government affairs.

If you were a news-wire editor for the New York Times or The Associated Press, tasked with analyzing the passage of a federal law, here is how you would compose the report.

Your lede would look something like this:

President Barack Obama today signed into law a controversial bill that grants millions of dollars in medical and social assistance, including abortion funding, to sexual assault victims and women with potentially life-threatening health risks due to pregnancy.

Below that, you would throw in some contemporary context with official quotes and left-said/right-said arguments, peppered with analysis from think-tank analysts and the like, wrapping up with a politically safe historical anecdote. These things are considered newsworthy in major U.S. news-reports on U.S. government affairs, so are typically included. Of course, some things are reasonably discouraged — hearsay, potential libel, identities of certain crime victims, advocacy — and are typically avoided, though an editor will have wiggle room.

Some items, though, are considered so irrelevant, or so politically dangerous; they are systematically omitted. Oddly enough, chief among them are the most accessible and relevant sources on whether any federal action is legitimate: the U.S. Constitution and arguments in the defense of individual rights.

Google “US Constitution, New York Times, AP, Congress,” e.g., or search each company's archives; hypothesize the ratio of those results to the number of news reports published in the same period; note how the Constitution is treated in those few reports; take similar notes on TV news outlets (they're all part of the AP collective, so they base much of their script on AP and NYT originals anyway). The results should immediately raise a few root-striking questions.

— U.S. federal seat-holders take an oath to preserve and defend the U.S. Constitution, else they don't get the job; why conceal the most vital information necessary for determining whether those supposed public servants are ethically apt?

— The individual States, through the Constitution, established the federal government; why are constitutional arguments not at the heart of every federal debate?

— How hard could it be to contact Ron Paul, Andrew Napolitano, Kevin Gutzman, or Glenn Greenwald, or simply refer to a pocket-size U.S. Constitution?

Granted, American journalists proudly champion the First Amendment — on rare occasion, mentioning the Constitution in passing — when it supports press freedom or doesn't indict U.S. policy. You'll also see mention of foreign constitutions and international laws, for either the same reasons or because it favors or “our friends in the War on . . .” But beyond that, there is an industry-wide disregard for the original intent of the Constitution and the defense of natural rights.

Freedom from central fiat, for example.

The Ninth and Tenth Amendments reinforce that the U.S. Constitution is a restraint on the federal government. But you won't see this in a mainstream news report:

While most congressional debates divide along partisan lines, Americans from all over the political spectrum have pointed to the U.S. Constitution's Tenth Amendment, which reads: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”

Since the funding of abortion and other medical services is not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, the federal government shall have no role either way, opponents say.

That is a calm and uncontroversial rendering of the facts. It strikes the root of nearly every federal debate, and can easily be appended to the editor's narrative. So, why isn't it?


Each American is an effect of the American State, so far as each is weaned on conventional wisdom. Federally approved textbooks and children's books; standing-army presence in schools, TV ads, and town squares; statist professors and federal scholarships; federal officials and their PR, e.g., about 95 percent of news media and C-SPAN: these are tools that construct, enforce, and reinforce the status quo. Call it U.S. public education.

In a constitutional republic formed voluntarily in pursuit of individual liberty and de-centralized self-determination, central control over education is an absolute moral transgression. The Framers knew this from empirical and historical evidence; hence, the U.S. Constitution denies the federal government the power. Yet the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) — a plundering waste of tax dollars and a counterproductive failure — thrives because governments always reward (reinforce) themselves for what they do well, e.g., consume, steal, fail, waste. Thus, most Americans are forced through the federal knowledge-experiment called K–12 and Beyond.

Journalists, historians, politicians, and the like are its poster children. This helps explain why U.S. news media and federal policymakers use the same language and argumentation, and why U.S. news-media generally portray federal policymakers as incapable of doing evil or having bad intentions. Prevailing wisdom is rooted in the DOE's natural tendency to revere the State, whose consensus predictably says that democracy and equality are lawfully enforced, everywhere, by government “action.”

A common thesis on DOE and MSM political views would evoke either a free society or institutionalized aggression, depending on the extent to which you would contrast the synonyms democracy and collectivist violence. According to DOE textbooks, the best president never uses the veto because he “get things done” for “the people.” He grudgingly “takes us to war” to nobly “spread freedom” and “democracy” despite “unfortunate errors” resulting in “collateral casualties”; which is to say he committed economic and military aggressions against non-aggressive individuals. But it's no matter, because it's all made possible by the “implied powers” that are somehow found in the “living Constitution.” Meanwhile, journalists insist that the First Amendment “gives us” the right to the freedom of speech in order to preserve “our democracy”; Congress “had to act” to “ensure equality”; and the president must “bolster” foreign “allied” central governments and “manage the economy.” These loftily-phrased supposed facts are nowhere in the U.S. Constitution, but permeate the dialogue and narrative of textbooks and news reports.

And wo wonder news-wire vernacular resembles that of a federal press release, virtually shielding federal policy from legal and moral questioning. (Surely, you've noticed.) Opponents are anti-US, radical, quixotic, fringe, state-owned, gunmen, insurgents, militants, terrorists, threats, violent, neo-this, neo-that, they have no motives or their motives are probed, or they don't exist. Meanwhile, the U.S. central government and its pals are pro-US, soldiers, experts, embattled, independent, humbled, troubled, compromising, peace-seeking, disappointed, their government-linked status is omitted, their motives are face-valued, or they don't exist. Call it the watchdog's proud pursuit of “fairness” and “equality” in “the national interest.”

Of course in a free society, equality is not one group and another having the same opportunity to lobby the State against each other, but rather each individual having the same freedom from government and other aggression. In this way, constitutional rights are negative rights: they come to every individual from God — you are born with them — therefore they shall not be infringed.

But according to prevailing wisdom, civil liberties are groups' rights, and are “achieved” through federal violence; meanwhile, individuals must “invoke” theirs.

And finally, the federal government shall be The Arbiter of whether the federal government has acted legitimately. When push comes to rare shove, politicians, conventional experts, and news editors will cite Supreme Court decisions and other “legal precedents” which are usually odds with the Constitution and Bill of Rights. This asserts that it is lawful, moral, and constitutional because it is federal law or the latest federal-government interpretation of the Constitution. Such treatment of the State should be expected, coming from the State.

Who is there, O Lord, to defend him against his “defenders”? -Murray N. Rothbard


No wonder U.S. federal seat holders easily acquire control over every individual's life, liberty, or property: they wield the violently indomitable and expanding State; by which, federal officials and their officially-connected pals engage in “legal plunder.” In the Orwellian name of fair competition, arbitrary financial and operational controls are put in place that make it difficult or impossible for new, small, and politically unconnected proprietors to enter a particular market or compete therein. Proponents call it anti-trust. The Constitution, the historical record, and common sense render it immoral, illegal, and counterproductive. The DOE, the IRS, the FCC, the FTC, the TSA, the IRS, the DHS, et al., are aggressive, wealth-destroying, monopoly-enabling armed enforcers of unconstitutional federal controls.

Politically-connected U.S. news-media are no less subject to their federal “license” than you or me. Only, unlike you or me, theirs is more like a “membership with benefits.” The incentives for journalists and news outlets not to question federal policy are practically inescapable. That is to say, lest they'd have to truly compete for work and patronage, state-connected U.S. news media act more like approved biographers. The AP, the NYT, NBC, et al., rely on revenue from fellow politically-connected beneficiaries of said unconstitutional federal controls; they walk minefields with their customers', advertisers', and shareholders' political and financial sensibilities. Journalists could lose their jobs or their unrivaled access to government officials, State-connected experts, and other established heavy-hitters, or be black-balled. Moreover:

— Editors, reporters, judges, politicians, and CEOs can even be destroyed by the IRS and the like.

— President Lincoln set the standard for suspending habeas corpus, shutting down newspapers, and kidnapping editors; every wartime president since has contrived and used such powers.

— There's the fate of all those news bureaus located within earshot of hundreds of unconstitutional military bases all over America and the world; standing armies are the ultimate enforcers of (unconstitutional) federal policy.

The amount of news-media revenue acquired by U.S. military occupations and other tax-funded monopoly is anyone's guess. But what would happen if the U.S. Constitution were to be enforced?

Ask the NYT or The AP. I'm sure they'll cover it.


Yet there's promise. Opportunity-loss for mercantilism is opportunity-gain for free exchange. In the news-media industry, this has taken form in a sort of ethical cleansing. Fraudulent and failing outlets are losing opportunities while honest and productive ones are gaining them. Newspapers are dropping like flies. Indy sources are popular as ever.

Popular opinion claims that it's due to the economy and technology; but at the core it's an issue of ethics: people don't like being swindled. The delivery technology is of little consequence when the delivered product or service is faulty or fraudulent. To the shrewd observer, one newspaper failing the test of honest free enterprise is one State steno no longer posing as a “voice for the voiceless.”

And though journalists are losing their jobs, here is an opportunity for them to produce honestly and fruitfully toward the defense of natural rights. They might have to do it on their own dimes, but at least they won't have to sell their souls.

Meanwhile, liberty-driven individuals and voluntary collectives are numerous as ever: journalists, bloggers, vloggers, tweeters, pamphlet-writers, protesters, teachers, politicians, public speakers, and MSM-article “commenters.” They come from this group, that one, and the other; but they have much more in common with each other than, say, a republic has with a democracy. They reject the State-friendly editorial cookie-cutter and question State-coddling wisdom. They strike the root so that readers can at least begin to divine the legality and morality of federal measures. Naturally, then, they uncover the State and its enablers, and inspire others to do so.

Which is good news for the preservation of liberty and a free republic.

Latest posts by Dan Alba (see all)

The views expressed in this article belong to the author/contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Nolan Chart or its ownership

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *