Citizens United and the Mainstream Media

Three thoughts on Citizens United and the mainstream media:

1. The decision better secures the liberty of the mainstream media. Most mainstream media is organized as corporations, and as the Court pointed out the argument for lesser protection for corporate speech would equally apply to speech by media corporations. So far, Congress has exempted the media from bans on corporate advocacy for or against candidates; but now it’s clear that the media corporations (alongside other corporations) are constitutionally entitled to so editorialize.

2. The decision diminishes the relative power of the mainstream media. Until now, media corporations and some ideological advocacy corporations were the only groups that had a truly free hand in editorializing for or against candidates. Now business corporations and unions will also have this freedom, and the relative importance of the media’s views will diminish.

3. But the decision will likely increase the income of the mainstream media, especially broadcasters: Now that unions and business corporations are free to speak for and against candidates, presumably many of them will do so, often by buying advertising. And who’ll sell them the time or space for the advertising? Mostly broadcasters, though perhaps some newspapers and magazines as well.

And, hey — though I suppose this requires a conflict-of-interest disclaimer — maybe some of the corporate and union money will go to blogs, too!

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