Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. That, of course, is from the Bill of Rights, the First Amendment. We, the people, have several inalienable freedoms and rights and among them is the freedom of the press. This newspaper is an example of that freedom of the press. This column is an example of freedom of the press. My blog, which I post weekly, is an example of freedom of the press. As a free citizen of this great country I enjoy the freedom to express myself in this newspaper or on the internet. Letters to the editor in all newspapers are an example of freedom of the press.
I bring this to your attention because of a little piece of legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, Democrat, New York, called the “Media Shield Law.” This law purports to protect certain news people from having to name their sources for stories they publish. That sounds like a good thing, right? The problem, as is always the case, is what Paul Harvey used to call “the rest of the story.” Only certain news people and media outlets would be protected because under this law all media outlets would have to be approved and licensed. Any news reporters not approved, such as private citizen observers, bloggers, reporters not friendly to the Administration, or any photographer deemed unworthy by the licensing agency, would receive no protection.
Basically this is a scheme designed to control who reports the news and who takes the pictures. It is obvious that citizen media such as bloggers, can get under the skin of politicians and make them uncomfortable. If they can find a way to shut them up or shut them out, they will do it. This law is tantamount to telling all media what they can say and when they can say it. This law would control criticism. Photographs that are unflattering would be censored. In other words this is a politician’s dream.
Well I have some news for the politicians. This isn’t going to happen. America is the land of the free and, pay attention politicians, home of the brave. Those who would attempt to stifle dissent, control criticism, or in any way regulate the news are going to fail miserably. No amount of clouding the real issues of this pending legislation is going to help pass it. As we have said before, “You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.” Trying to hide the real motive of this legislation isn’t going to work.
I am constantly amazed by individuals who, having been elected to office, look for ways to hamper and restrain criticism. If politicians are doing something that has to be kept secret and hidden from the American people, perhaps they shouldn’t be doing it. The reality is that politicians who have been elected are the servants of the people. They are our employees. What they do and how they do it is the business of the people. Not only should it be completely transparent, but it also should be judged by their employer, the American people.
The way we know what they are doing is through the media and that media must always be completely free. It is also vital that the media be diligent and accurate.
Our Founders knew that freedom of the press and expression was vital to our freedom and to the nation and that is why it is covered in the First Amendment. This so-called “Media Shield Law” is an abridgement of that freedom. Don’t let this happen. Let your Congressman know how you feel about ceding more of your freedom.