First Amendment Rights – Freedom of the Press

The First Amendment of the US Constitution protects the press from laws that would take away the rights to publish their content. That is the essence of the freedom of the press clause in the Constitution. Even with that guarantee there are many restrictions on the press.

The press cannot publish false information that damages a person’s reputation or livelihood. This is libel, and it is a criminal offense. The press is not guaranteed or granted unrestricted access to, nor can they publish material that is classified or against the national interests of the United States. These laws are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the restrictions on the press.

Being part of the press corps at the White House is not protected by the First Amendment. This is a privilege to the journalists and news agencies who have been granted this access to the President and the Administration. Those individuals and news agencies can have that access revoked. Especially if they violate protocol or the law.

Jim Acosta, the CNN journalist, has violated protocol at the very least. He also has allegedly committed assault against a female White House intern. For these reasons his press pass was revoked by the White House.

But of course some Leftist black-robed unelected tyrant Judge has overstepped their Constitutional authority and reinstated Mr Acosta’s White House press credentials. And until we take back our Liberties this judicial opinion is treated as law. However, the White House is still within it’s authority and bounds to refuse to call upon Mr Acosta and may deactivate any mic he happens to force out of any one else’s hands.

The American People need to understand their rights. They must know them. They must know that they do not come from the government but the come from God. Government is only there to acknowledge these rights and protect these rights.

Mr Acosta’s rights were not violated when his press pass was revoked. This is a privilege not a right to be at the White House press briefing. His freedom of the press was not removed. His right to due process does not apply as this is an administrative action to a privilege. His rights were maintained.

Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

This past Thursday, 350 newspapers joined in an editorial writing campaign lamenting President Donald Trump’s attacks on the press. And because it’s a social media age, it came with a hashtag, #FreePress. These editorials and the hashtag are designed to make people aware of the vital role a free press is to maintaining a healthy democracy.

Or at least that’s what they say.

Freedom of the press is a hot-button issue, partially because of President Trump’s seemingly endless attacks on the press, and partially because the press has earned quite a bit of scorn in recent years. (I’m looking right at you, Jim Acosta and April Ryan.) Whether you consider reporters to be brave warriors against an oppressive government (which begs the question of why they’re allowed to report if the government is so oppressive) or stenographers for the Left, it’s a good time to discuss freedom of the press again.

freedom of the press

What the Left thinks it means – the freedom for the press to publish what it wants without government interference

What it really means – the freedom for the press to publish facts and let the people decide without government interference

The Left loves to conflate what they think freedom of the press is with what it really is because, to them, a free press should be unfettered by editorial, social, or political norms. And for a long time, it was. Where the two concepts part company is that the former doesn’t take said norms into consideration anymore when deciding whether to run with a story or sit on it for a while. Remember, some of the same people who decry Trump’s attacks on the press were pretty silent during the Clinton and Obama years in spite of the egregious acts those two Presidents took against the press.

Or was it that the press allowed themselves to ignore?

There’s the rub. (Settle down, Mr. Clinton.) The media have immense power to create a perception of reality simply by deciding what deserves our attention and how it’s presented. The free press are gatekeepers of information and can either promote or kill a story with a single editorial decision. Such power needs to be used judiciously and impartially as possible. Unfortunately, the free press has decided to abuse that power to cater to an ideologically-driven audience. And it worked for a long time.

Then, talk radio, Fox News, and the Internet came into being. Although they too fall into the same trap the press has, they provide an alternative view to what is being presented by other sources. You know, like the 350 newspapers parroting the same editorial about how freedom of the press is important? The Left has always seen talk radio, Fox News, and the Internet as one-offs that can be ignored/discarded/mocked, but they miss one important element: these sources are also branches of the free press tree. Just because they’re ideologically different from you doesn’t make them any less factual or balanced.

And speaking of balanced, who do you think is the most balanced news network in reporting on President Trump? That would be…Fox News, with a smaller difference between positive and negative coverage than the rest of the free press. MSNBC, CNN, the New York Times, and others have made it a personal vendetta to spew as much negative news about Trump as they can. Trump could walk on water and they would say it’s because he’s afraid to swim.

The #FreePress situation is a self-inflicted wound from people who keep turning the handle of the Gatling gun pointed at their feet in the hopes a bullet will ricochet and hit their target. Their main problem unless they change their tactics is they’ll either run out of bullets or run out of feet without even getting in a shot on their target. Say what you will about freedom of the press, but what we are seeing now from the press isn’t something that necessarily should be shrouded in the concept of a right. What the free press is doing currently is a disservice to the bedrock principles that made freedom of the press worth fighting for in the first place.

When I was just starting to learn about how to be a reporter, my journalism professor drove it into my head to leave my feelings out of what I saw and report on what happened using the best judgment available. The example he used was whether a newspaper would be okay to run the picture of a dead body next to a story about a gruesome murder. Would the picture be newsworthy? Absolutely. Should it be run? That’s a tough call. The editor making that decision would have to balance the benefits of running the photo against the negative implications that would arise from running it.

Today’s loudest defenders of freedom of the press have their thumbs on the scale of that decision, and it has created an environment where there are people who actually do want to limit the freedom of the press, including our President. And last time I checked, the President has access to nukes, so it might be a good idea to slow your roll a bit.

Having said that, freedom of the press isn’t under assault as much as those proclaiming it is are trying to make it out to be. Unless, of course, you consider being held to a level of accountability to be oppressive, which news flash…IT ISN’T! Journalism isn’t an occupation for the faint of heart, and those who take up that line of work deserve a level of respect until they try to take shortcuts, either out of laziness or out of allegiance to an ideology. And if it’s not one, it’s the other.

If the #FreePress crowd is really concerned about the negative image they’ve cultivated (admitted with President Trump’s help), they need to take a step back and do an honest accounting of what they’ve done and continue to do. Take the emotions and politics out of it and deal with the facts. If you can’t do that, you are part of the problem and you need to relearn Reporting 101. If you can and you feel you did nothing wrong, see the previous point. If you can and you can’t take pride in what you’ve done and do, then fix it and encourage others to do the same. To borrow a different hashtag with a similar sentiment, #WalkAway.

And to the reporters, editors, and media types jumping on the #FreePress bandwagon under the guise of protecting freedom of press, remember one thing. Freedom is a constant fight. You don’t get it by virtue of your occupation or ideology; you earn it by working to preserve it. A hashtag and a constant stream of negativity towards a President you don’t like in defiance of the truth, or conversely a constant stream of positivity towards a President you do like in defiance of the truth, doesn’t cut it. Earn the respect you seek.

Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

President Donald Trump and the media are a match made in the Tenth Circle of Hades. It’s like the Ninth Circle, but it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the Ninth. Plus, it’s on the bus line and it has great public schools. Whenever Trump says something, the media analyze it, have “experts” talk about it, figure out what kind of spin to put on it, and then broadcast it to the world without checking facts. Then, when the President gets upset and comments on it, the media pretend they’re under attack (in spite of the fact it’s their crappy reporting that created the problem in the first place).

To hear the Left talk about it, freedom of the press is under attack because of President Trump. “We are the first line of defense against the Trump Administration,” media figures cry as they find the closest American flag to wrap themselves in for that added effect. (I’m looking right at you, Keith Olbermann.) Whether you agree with the Left or are smarter than a bag of hammers, it’s time to take a look at the institution secured in the First Amendment.

freedom of the press

What the Left believes it means – a sacrosanct right that allows the press to act like the Fourth Estate and keep politicians honest

What it really means – a right that the Left has abused so the press can act like the Fifth Column to the Right and lapdogs to the Left

As a former journalism school student, I have a deep respect for reporters who go out and find news stories that matter. I want to buy you two or three good reporters a beer.

As for the rest of the media, I need to have a word with you. I know you think you’re doing great work trying to protect us from the evils of the Trump Administration, but you’re about as useful as the stick after you eat a corndog. And if you don’t know what a corndog is, that’s part of your problem, but we’ll talk about that later.

Let’s deal with the neon green elephant in the room: you guys and gals aren’t helping the situation under your current business model, which makes Gawker look responsible. How many stories have you run with that have been poorly sourced, if they were sourced at all? How many hit pieces have you published or broadcast over minutia like whether Donald Trump’s daughter’s nanny’s brother’s cousin’s optometrist’s dog walker had an overdue library book in 1978? How many times have you had to print or broadcast retractions to cover your collective hinders after being exposed as being hacks?

And you wonder why the media are trusted less frequently than used car salesmen.

Yes, the First Amendment gives you the right to publish and broadcast the news, but it also gives me the right to call you out when you suck at your job. And right now, a billion Dysons at the center of a black hole can’t reach your level of suck. And, no, claiming to be defending the freedom of the press isn’t a shield from legitimate criticism. Say what you want about President Trump (and I know you will), he has a point about the current state of reporting. A lot of the news being generated from your ranks falls into a handful of buckets: celebrity, tragedy, political expediency, and stuff you make up to fill air time or column inches. Sometimes you combine some of the items in the buckets (like if Justin Bieber comes out with a new CD supporting Planned Parenthood and, when played backwards, gives proof of aliens at Area 51), but the point is you aren’t doing the best work right now.

Think about the reporters who came before you. Would Edward R. Murrow consider what you’re doing to be good reporting? Do you even know who Murrow is? If not, learn about him and try to emulate him whenever you can. And while we’re here, Keith Olbermann isn’t the second coming of Ed Wood, let alone Edward R. Murrow.

Freedom of the press is a legitimate shield in a lot of cases, and I wouldn’t want any politician, Left or Right, to curtail your right to report. Having said that, the right to a free press comes with the responsibility to use it responsibly. That’s where you folks are going wrong. Look at CNN’s Jim Acosta, for example. You may look up to him as a tough journalist, but if you strip away the ideological lenses, he’s trying to feather his own nest by trying to bring down Trump with nonsensical questions. That doesn’t help your legitimacy at all. And I can list a number of high-profile nothingburgers the media have put forth as news within the past few months. Shouldn’t you try to be more reliable than a Smart Car in a demolition derby?

Until then, I have a simple request. Stop pretending you’re doing something noble by defending freedom of the press against the Trump Administration and weed out the bad faith players within your ranks. Then maybe you can not only restore your former credibility, but have more people willing to support you when you take a stand in defense of the freedom of the press.

The End of the First Amendment?

If you felt a great disturbance in the Force as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, that was my fault. I had burritos for lunch.

If you felt a great disturbance in the First Amendment as if millions of voices cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced, you must have been following Twitter feeds regarding Gawker filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. For those of you unfamiliar with Gawker, count your blessings. Put simply, if the Internet had a birdcage, the bird would refuse to crap on Gawker.

The Leftist media are lamenting the fact a billionaire, Peter Thiel, was able to back a lawsuit against Gawker for defying a court order and publishing a sex tape involving former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan. They even tried to justify their actions on Gawker. And this position lead to…losing the lawsuit to a guy allowed to wear a bandana in court to the tune of $140 million. And I thought there were a lot of zeroes working for Gawker…

After the courts laid the judiciary smackdown on Gawker, they had financial difficulties leading to today’s announcement. Now, every so-called journalist seems to be lining up to fret about freedom of the press. After all, if Gawker could be taken down by a billionaire, what’s to stop others from doing the same?

Well, they could start by…oh, I don’t know…not breaking the law?

The Left’s concern about freedom of the press is admirable, but misplaced in this situation. It’s not like a billionaire has targeted the New York Times and bankrupted it. (Well, unless you count Carlos Slim, that is.) But aside from the obvious lack of comparability, journalism is not taking a hit by Gawker filing bankruptcy. If anything, it should be a wake-up call for journalists to act carefully when it comes to matters of personal privacy and the law. And if you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, you need to find your way back to the right side as quickly as you can. Don’t double down on stupid like Gawker did!

When it comes down to it, the First Amendment is healthier than the Left believes or wants it to be, Gawker or no Gawker. And if I had my wish, it would definitely be without Gawker.