As far as I know, the guarantee of freedom of press is a legal tool to ensure the government cannot use threats and violence to force a news agency to not publicize a piece of news. But what about the carrot compared to the stick? If the government, or any other powerful people propose to the boss of the news agency or the reporter themselves, "If you don't publish those bad things about me, I can give you whatever you want. Be it money or power." Is it an attack on the freedom of press, if no violence, coercion, or threat of violence is used?

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    I don't think it really matters, because it would definitely count as bribery, and would therefore be illegal anyway.
    – F1Krazy
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 23:01
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    Profit already drives the press - people report on things their readers want to read about, since those things generate revenue.
    – Allure
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 23:06
  • In the US, it would presumably require a law to implement this scheme. And the 1st Amendment says "Congress shall make no law ..."
    – Barmar
    Commented Sep 23, 2022 at 23:56

1 Answer 1


Certainly it is an attack on freedom of the press. And it does not require laws. Nor even direct bribery. To illustrate the point I will use POTUS. But the same general ideas apply at nearly any level.

You say nice things about POTUS, you get a White House press pass. You ask him uncomfortable questions, you wait on the sidewalk. You play ball, you get to ride on Air Force One. You dont, you pay for your own ticket on regular airlines, probably flying coach. You slant your story to make POTUS look good, you get leaks when something juicy is afoot. You don't, you read about it on your rival's web page.

There are some ways that this process is disturbed a little bit, though it is quite deep seated and stubborn.

Just one example: If a reporter of is sufficiently photogenic, then the people who assign the press core for POTUS briefings may let the pretty person in. At least once in a while. Lauren Southern had White House press credentials for a while. Though she did not last.

Usually the only time there is any significant disruption of this process is when the political party in power gets voted out. When POTUS changes from one party to the other, all his drinking-buddy-reporters have to find new crevices. And all new POTUS-cronies have to be found.

Neither is this process new. Walter Duranty gave Stalin glowing press coverage, covering over the Holodomor. This got him access to Stalin. And there is the changing newspaper coverage as Napoleon returned to Paris from Elba.

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Power and prestige have long had an influence on the Press.

There probably is not an easy fix to this. We simply have to accept it, be aware of it, and lean into it. That is, we have to expect that the reporters that get access are toads. And it will be true no matter who is in power. We have to be aware of it and discount what they are saying because of it.

It is conceivable that there are ways to reduce this process. However, I expect that these would require drastic modifications to our political system. And usually it is a difficult task to make such drastic changes without producing unexpected and unwanted side effects.

  • but that would just means that in a capitalistic society, where domination in economy could transform into indirect political power, those media tycoon could manipulate information to suit their need and we would be none the wiser
    – Faito Dayo
    Commented Sep 24, 2022 at 17:21
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    @FaitoDayo The hope is that there will be multiple voices. In a capitalist society there is nothing to stop anybody who wants from standing on a box and saying stuff. Even large stacks of cash won't let you dominate because there are lots of other people with lots of cash. There are about 22 million millionaires in the US. It is state domination that allows domination.
    – BillOnne
    Commented Sep 25, 2022 at 3:40

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