WASHINGTON – This just in: More bad news for the newspaper industry, as President Obama's top aides signal it will not be getting a government bailout. With the Boston Globe just the latest big-city newspaper teetering on the edge of shutdown, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs brushed aside a question about whether the federal government will consider stepping in to help save newspapers, as it has with so many other industries.
"I don't know what, in all honesty, government can do about it," Gibbs told reporters. Gibbs signaled one difference from bailouts for the auto industry and financial firms is that it's a "bit of a tricky area" for the White House to be helping media companies that cover the President, given the potential for conflicts of interest.
It's not like the President, who is routinely spotted with a newspaper tucked under his arm when he's getting into a motorcade, is completely unsympathetic to the industry. Gibbs said Obama feels "concern and sadness" over the plight of the print media, though the spokesman couldn't resist a poke at some of the reporters in the briefing room who had recently posed skeptical questions about the President's push to trim a small amount of federal spending.
"You guys didn't think $100 million meant a lot a few weeks ago," Gibbs said. "But looking at some of the balance sheets, $100 million seems to mean a lot." Ouch.