A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
As a former card carrying member of the press, I have had my share of run-ins with those who threw every roadblock in my way when I was doing my job gathering and delivering the news.
One, less than sterling moment was a stand-up, in your face, yelling, verbal fight with a deputy sheriff on court house grounds. He was threatening to arrest me for doing my job. I was begging him to go ahead and put the cuffs on. I did, however, remind him that he was opening himself and the county up to a million dollar lawsuit for violation of my civil rights and, even more importantly, my constitutional rights as a journalist granted under the First Amendment to the Constitution.
I won. (Oh, and yes, later in life I became a deputy sheriff myself. So, I’ve had the advantage of seeing the issue from both sides. I still come down on the side of the First Amendment.)
There is no secret that the Mainstream Media is subject to a death grip on their throats by the liberal/Progressive/Marxist elements in governments around the globe and especially here in America where freedom of the press is guaranteed by our constitution. Do not be deceived, that constitutional guarantee does not mean the Left will not make every attempt in their power to control the press and — if that fails — then they will pull out all the stops to muzzle the press.
For decades, nay, for centuries, the press in America has been warned over, and over, and over again, that the political Left, which they unreservedly serve, will come after them, first thing, should they (the Left) ever gain complete control of the US government. It is the nature of the Leftist beast.
To date, the US Mainstream Media has pooh-poohed all the warnings the political Right has issued, especially those warning that the free press will be the very first constitutional guarantee suddenly dissolved and done away with.
Should our current Leftist leaders follow suit of their forerunners in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the so-called civilized world, shutting down the presses will only be the beginning. Members of the press could and, I feel certain will, find themselves locked away in some sort of internment camp, or holding facility, somewhere in the less populated areas of our vast country.
Plainly put — they don’t believe us. Even with the wall the Obama administration has built between the administration and the public’s eyes into the government, and the workings of the government, the slavish members of the leftist Mainstream Media in America STILL will not believe and , I daresay, when they are led away in handcuffs, and stashed, incommunicado, in one of those internment camps we mentioned above, they will STILL hang on to their mantra of freedom of the press and they will not be able to accept that they have been wrong all these decades and, even worse, the political Right has been correct all along.
“President Obama’s has been the most aggressive Administration in history, not only in going after whistleblowers, but also pursuing the reporters who write their stories.” –SOURCE: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2014/03/obama-press-attacks-degrade-first-amendment-name-security
The purpose of the First Amendment, the ruling from New York Times v. Sullivan says, is “to assure unfettered interchange of ideas for the bringing about of political and social changes desired by the people.” — SOURCE: http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/blog/2014/03/obama-press-attacks-degrade-first-amendment-name-security
Currently, the Mainstream Media is looking, somewhat askance, at an attempt at a national/federal shield law in some form of development within the democratically controlled US Senate. It was proposed by Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York. It is titled: the “Free Flow of Information Act.”
Consider this: “Schumer’s proposal would exempt a “covered journalist” from subpoenas and other legal requirements to expose their confidential sources in leak investigations and other areas.” — SOURCE: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/26/Exclusive-Cornyn-Rips-Schumer-s-Media-Shield-Law
Some reports leaked out of the Senate say the law would shield only “approved” or, as the article above states, “covered journalists.”
The article goes on to quote John Cornyn, Republican Senator of Texas, as saying: “They want to pick and choose which journalists are covered,” the Texan Republican told Breitbart News. “In other words, if you’re a blogger they might not cover you, but if you work for the New York Times they might. Given the changes in the way we get information and the way we consume news, that really smacks to me in essence of government licensing who’s an official ‘journalist’ for the purposes of a shield law and who’s not. If there is one thing I can glean from the First Amendment, it is that government should not be in the business of licensing the news media.” — SOURCE: http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/26/Exclusive-Cornyn-Rips-Schumer-s-Media-Shield-Law
See the problem here? So who is an approved or covered journalist? And an even more important question is … by approving certain journalists — is the government creating it’s own government press corp with allegiance to the government and not to the people? Will it result in a state controlled media?
Senator Schumer says he already has the 60 votes he needs for passage of the bill in the US Senate. It was not clear if any of those votes were from Republican senators.
The plain truth is, Dear Reader, when the government begins to fool around with the constitution it is the people who lose freedom. That includes the members of the press as both private citizens and as members of the press/media.
The First Amendment is what it is. Freedom of the press. Even an attempt by the government to pass a federal shield law is interference with our constitutional right and ought not be allowed — not even considered.
J. D. Longstreet