Pete Riehm
You get what you pay for
By Pete Riehm
July 19, 2023

The old adage goes “you get what you pay for,” or in other words, if it’s cheap or free, it’s probably not useful or of any quality. So, Americans have learned whether a product or service, it’s prudent and typically better to simply pay for the usefulness or the quality you want with one glaring exception – news. Through most of American history, Americans would just consume whatever news was freely available. Newspapers, radio, and television let advertisers pay the cost to provide news. For most of that time, it was a symbiotic relationship that worked—media would provide news that interested people and the advertisers could get their sales pitches out. It seemed harmless.

Advertisers have always been somewhat sensitive to what or who they sponsored, but the calculus to advertise usually just came down to readership or viewership. There has always been biased news with certain media outlets more supportive of one party or ideology over others, but wherever the people were, the advertising dollars went. Until the 21st century, advertisers would typically only retreat from a specific show for some breach of decency or a scandal. Political controversy didn’t seem to be much of a variable in the advertising equation.

Over the past few decades, Americans settled into a comfortable well-worn paradigm: CNN and MSNBC are the liberal news outlets, Fox News is conservative, and the legacy media (ABC, CBS, and NBC) are somewhere in between. We were content believing there was a wide playing field, and one could knowingly choose whatever bias they prefer. However, the past few years have shaken that model and Americans are wondering or learning if that free news is objective or is it only what the people paying the bills what us to know?

The Chinese Virus pandemic stifled economies and shut down societies. Initially, there was so much unknown it was frightening, so Americans looked to government and media for guidance. This was a new and difficult challenge, so solutions should demand vigorous debate and research. But that’s not what happened. There was only one approved prescription of masking, social distancing, shutdowns, and vaccines; and mention of any other approach or treatment was immediately censored and vociferously ridiculed. Oddly, people noticed that literally every primetime news show on every outlet was “brought to you by Pfizer!”

COVID news was only what Big Pharma paying the advertising wanted it to be, so Americans had to resort to alternate news to debate this issue and discover other options. The 2020 election was another egregious example of no debate and dissent silenced. Until Tucker Carlson aired previously unseen video from January 6th, the insurrection fabrication was the only allowed narrative on all mainstream news. With Elon Musk buying Twitter, we learned that the federal government colluded with social media to censor certain news and promote other news, so who was orchestrating this propaganda? Or who was paying for it?

Carlson got fired from Fox News soon after deviating from the corporate orthodoxy, but really, he was liberated. Since leaving Fox, Carlson has been even more pointed, but more important, more relative. Carlson is persistently asking the tough questions about the border, COVID, January 6th, Ukraine, and Biden corruption. At the Family Leadership Summit in Iowa, he showed the Republican presidential candidates no quarter; he asked each the most salient questions often to the candidate’s discomfort.

Watching Carlson post Fox, Americans are realizing that Fox News has been playing a conservative charade with only cursory and superficial reporting on the most important issues that only slightly deviated from the rest of mainstream media. Newsmax and One America News have been ascending as true information alternatives the past few years, but it took Carlson’s star power to wake up masses of Americans to the emerging fact that the mainstream media is nothing more than paid propaganda.

The disturbing epiphany is that most news is no different than professional wrestling with scripted narratives and foregone conclusions by those paying for the information. If Americans want objective quality information or just plain truth, they will have to pay for it.

We are not accustomed to buying news, but subscription news is the only way to know you are buying information not otherwise influenced. The national news is essentially only corporate or government approved information; it’s seldom fair or objective and often untrue. The mainstream news in Alabama is dominated by Alabama Power, Blue Cross & Blue Shield, and Regions Bank, so if they don’t like a story, it doesn’t get published. 1819 News is solely subscriber sponsored news and they are shaking up the status quo in Alabama to great effect.

We are in the information age, so good information is valuable and vital. If Americans are to make rational informed decisions about the myriad challenges facing our families, communities, and country, we must have only the best information based in truth! If Americans want truth, they will have to pay for it because we cannot rely on corporate news riddled with hidden agendas. Subscription news is growing rapidly. Americans are smart consumers, so we must only apply those standards to the information we consume.

A nation operating under false pretenses and lies will falter; America will only thrive on truth. Find good, verifiable news sources and subscribe. Our Republic depends on it!

“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

Pete Riehm is a conservative activist and columnist in south Alabama. Email him at or read all his columns at

© Pete Riehm


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Pete Riehm

Born to German immigrants, Pete Riehm grew up in Texas as a first generation American. Working his way through college, he enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve. After graduating from the University of Houston, Pete was commissioned into the United States Navy through Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island. He also earned a Master's Degree in National Security from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas... (more)


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