- - Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Some people may find President Joe Biden’s repeated calls for “unity” a welcome respite from the division of the Trump years. Maybe so, but the evolving discussion around allowing the government to step in and censor the free press should be as alarming as anything the former president did.

It is especially frightening that some of the leaders of this effort are academics and journalists, both of whom thrive because of our traditional free speech culture. Progressive columnists have called for government interventions in the media marketplace to ensure fairness and accuracy, the “de-platforming” from the Internet of sites that spread “disinformation,” for cable and satellite carriers to be bullied into dropping conservative media channels, and for organized boycotts of products advertised on conservative news outlets to convince sponsors to walk away unless the editorial side of things is “reformed.”

It’s easy to have unity once all questioning and dissenting voices are suppressed. But would that be good for the country? There’s no doubt Mr. Biden is serious about bringing us together but, for that to happen, both sides must admit they’ve played a part in dividing the country.

Conservatives and conservative media do have things to answer for, but to blame them alone for the nation’s problems is itself disinformation. The concerted, sustained effort to shut-down and shut-out Fox News, One America, and Newsmax — outlets all created, at least in part, as a response to continuing leftward drift over decades of the rest of the broadcast media is outrageous.

It goes without saying that if the effort to silence conservative broadcasters succeeds, it won’t be long before the same tactics are used against conservative publications. Varied points of view must be given the opportunity for expression if voters are to educate themselves and reach their own conclusions.

Leading the charge but hardly alone is Media Matters, a progressive group founded by David Brock, that’s waged a lengthy campaign targeting Fox News and, increasingly, the Murdoch family who are its major shareholders.

Why Fox? It’s where approximately half the country gets its news. If it’s silenced, how will its viewers react, especially if it’s the government that does it? The answer, one suspects, is not well. We are living in an age where trust in the media is at an all-time low. According to Axios, 56 percent of Americans agree that “Journalists and reporters are purposely trying to mislead people by saying things they know are false or gross exaggerations.”

The distrusting, jaded attitude toward the media as an institution isn’t the result of conservative media. Recent events have let us all see behind the curtain just how hostile the media environment with all its self-righteous indignation truly is. Americans believe that what they see on TV is dishonest, and understandably are unsure of what to believe anymore.

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