STAR LEDGER OPINION
The bosses don’t care about the costs, though, because saving money is not the real purpose. And they don’t care that many poor and elderly people don’t use computers, either.
The real purpose is to give them a tool to bully newspapers. Under this bill, a local mayor or county executive could retaliate against newspapers by pulling these advertisements. The bill is an attempt to turn watchdogs into lapdogs.
Who is behind it? Several legislators say it is George Norcross, the boss from South Jersey who hates the press for exposing the crude way he plays politics with big money and backroom threats. Oliver is likely doing the dirty work of her boss, Essex County Executive Joe DiVincenzo, though neither would admit that. Gov. Chris Christie’s unquestioning lieutenants in the Legislature were also pushing this.
Friday’s move came as a surprise even to the sponsors of the bill. And that, too, is typical of the bosses. No discussion, no public scrutiny and no fingerprints.
The Star-Ledger gets 2.5 percent of its revenues from these ads, but smaller papers are more dependent and may have to shut down. So this bill would cost jobs as well.
It’s a bad bill from any angle. Let’s hope this is one case in which legislators have the nerve to push back against the bosses.