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More Libertarian Than Thou?

January 7th, 2008 · 5 Comments

This, from AmSpec‘s John Tabin, is pretty bogus:

Re JGP’s comment: “Even if Paul doesn’t thrill you, whether it’s legitimate to lock him out is another question.” It probably wouldn’t be legitimate for the Republican party to do so; Paul is out-polling Thompson in New Hampshire, after all. The NH GOP was right to pull their co-sponsorship. But it’s perfectly legitimate for Fox News to invite whoever they want to appear before the cameras they own, as Ron Paul himself ought to agree (at least when he’s not ditching his principles).

Nobody is questioning Fox’s legal right to have whomever they please on their debate. As a libertarian, I also endorse Ted Haggard’s legal right to buy crystal meth from the male prostitutes he patronizes. But sometimes people—or journalistic institutions—implicitly hold themselves to more stringent standards than property rights impose. (And, indeed, “legitimacy” in political theory is often conceptually distinguished from “justice” or “right”.) All sorts of things that are within ones rights as a private citizen are outside the bounds of what is legitimate by the norms of a particular role one occupies—in this instance, the norms of journalism.

Tags: Horse Race Politics



5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Barry // Jan 7, 2008 at 2:11 pm

    It’s amazing to see what they’ll do. Some blog published screenshots of Fox’s pie charts, listing the vote breakdown. Paul’s slice was whited out, with no name attached.

  • 2 John Tabin // Jan 7, 2008 at 9:52 pm

    Sorry, but I’d even argue that Fox’s Paul-free format served their journalistic mission better. The other candidates are more newsworthy, period.

  • 3 Julian Sanchez // Jan 8, 2008 at 12:42 am

    That’s a defensible position, but also a very different argument.

  • 4 James // Jan 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    Hi peeps. As the instigata here for the record I side with Julian’s argument over John’s first argument and John’s first argument over his second argument. ‘More newsworthy’ too easily just means ‘more famous’ (which in turn carries some of its own ideological freight). A more interesting argument, which seems to me is finally a loser, is whether it’s legit as well as legal for a private news organization to only include whoever they damn well like at events of this nature.

  • 5 Anand // Jan 22, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    I am someone who thinks of himself as a left-libertarian. I chanced upon your post here and would like your opinion on a related matter.

    What do you think of the view that the media is supposed to “serve in the public interest”? One reason (just one of many) is that the airwaves are “commons”.

    Many people hold that to mean something different than the caricatured “invisible hand benefiting society”.

    a) Do you agree with this view?
    b) Do you agree with the “leftist meaning”, meaning some sort of regulation, either by local or central bodies?
    c) What’s your view about the FCC’s recent decision regarding cross-ownership?

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