Is a commercial mass media, dependent on the market for its sustenance, necessary, or even desirable, for liberal democracy? Yochai Benkler has argued that a decentralized, peer-to-peer system of communications and information is both possible with digital technology and preferable to a system based on commercial mass media. He has contended in fact that the presence of politically powerful, copyright-rich mass media imposes significant barriers to the development of peer-to-peer information-sharing networks. In contrast, I have argued that the commercial mass media play an important, and perhaps even vital, role in liberal democracy by galvanizing public opinion, serving as a watchdog against government and corporate wrongdoing, agenda-setting (which enables public discourse), and serving as a relatively trustworthy source of information. This paper seeks to push the ball forward on this issue. It first isolates and enumerates the contributions that the commercial mass media are said to make towards liberal democracy. It then briefly assesses the extent to which the commercial mass media actually fulfills these constitutive functions. It then asks whether alternative institutions might serve some or all of these functions just as well or better. In so doing, it looks both to the past and the future. First, it examines the political party-supported press that thrived in the United States through much of the 19th century. Second, it examines government-funded mass media. Third, it looks, skeptically, at possibilities for peer-to-peer sharing of information and opinion in the digital network environment. I conclude that, despite the weaknesses of commercial mass media, an information policy suitable to liberal democracy should include a plurality of types of voices, including commercial mass media.