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Intellectual Ankle-Grabbers Drowning in Tank for Obama

Journalist Lemmings Dive Off Cliff While AG Holder Spies, Blusters & Prevaricates


By —— Bio and Archives--June 4, 2013

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Of all of the accidentally hilarious aspects of the implosion of Obama’s War Against the Bill of Rights, none is more informative than his broadside against journalism and Freedom of the Press. What does it say about those who take their very sustenance from the 1st Amendment Free Speech clause that many want to extinguish other people’s constitutional liberties at every possible opportunity?

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In fact, these journalism-lite “professionals” are simply one more example of the failed American intellectual elite whose commitment to leftist doctrines supersedes any interest in unbiased reporting. Will the media’s obsession with supporting the progressive movement at every turn cost them their own livelihood and personal freedoms? This ironic outcome seems more likely with each passing day

I. History of a Free Press: John Peter Zenger Speaking Truth to Power

A brief history of American Freedom of the Press would include the English foundation, being John Milton’s immortal Areopagitica and the original British Parliament Free Speech provision. Milton wrote:

This is true Liberty when free born men
Having to advise the public may speak free,
Which he who can, and will, deserv’s high praise,
Who neither can nor will, may hold his peace;
What can be juster in a State then this?

The Framers of the Constitution understood how important a free press was to keeping a democracy healthy by keeping the People informed. So the First Amendment states:

Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances

The Framers were dedicated to Free Press. Note the Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec, written by the First Continental Congress in 1774:

The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs.

After the Bill of Rights, the pinnacle of America’s defense of Free Press occurred during the early 18th century Zenger trial, where Zenger was tried by New York State for seditious libel. He had written unflattering words about Governor William Cosby, seen as an arbitrary lapdog for the British. Zenger’s attorney asserted that truth was the only necessary defense of libel.

The trial of John Peter Zenger, printer of the New York Weekly Journal, in August, 1735, raises vital questions about liberty that were of special concern both in England and America during the 17th and 18th centuries. One question concerns the limits to free speech and to freedom of the press: May citizens rightly and safely criticize government officials if those officials are thought to have abused their powers?

Zenger was thereafter acquitted. This victory helped fuel the newspaper industry in America, making government meddling much harder to sustain. Framer of the Constitution, James Madison, explained how America differed from Britain in the Freedom of the Press:

In the United States the case is altogether different. The People, not the Government, possess the absolute sovereignty. The Legislature, no less than the Executive, is under limitations of power. Encroachments are regarded as possible from the one as well as from the other. Hence, in the United States the great and essential rights of the people are secured against legislative as well as against executive ambition. They are secured, not by laws paramount to prerogative, but by constitutions paramount to laws. This security of the freedom of the press requires that it should be exempt not only from previous restraint by the Executive, as in Great Britain, but from legislative restraint also; and this exemption, to be effectual, must be an exemption not only from the previous inspection of licensers, but from the subsequent penalty of laws.

II. Intellectual Lapdogs Furious at Obama & Holder

How have American journalists responded to Obama and AG Eric Holder’s cavalier application of wire taps applied across a broad section of the US media? Many were furious, and in disbelief that an Administration which promised epic levels of transparency and rectitude would so trample the Constitution. AP President and Chief Executive Officer Gary Pruitt, claimed the DoJ was on an unprecedented fishing expedition, involving 100 journalists. He demanded return of phone records and destruction of all copies, writing to Eric Holder:

There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of The Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.’

But, Holder claimed he had every right to do these actions since it was a “very, very serious leak.” (Of course this immediately begs the question, Why didn’t the WH call some Nixonian plumbers to fix the leaks…)

Ironically, the same White House that regularly spied on journalist’s communications held an off-the-record meeting to discuss the topic. Holder admitted he may have crossed the line when pursuing FOX News reporter James Rosen, perhaps simply because he appears to have perjured himself in front of Congress. In fact, Holder might lighten his own probe standards! One source describes his kabuki-styled remorse:

But for Attorney General Eric Holder, the gravity of the situation didn’t fully sink in until Monday morning when he read the Post’s front-page story, sitting at his kitchen table. Quoting from the affidavit, the story detailed how agents had tracked Rosen’s movements in and out of the State Department, perused his private emails, and traced the timing of his calls to the State Department security adviser suspected of leaking to him. Then the story, quoting the stark, clinical language of the affidavit, described Rosen as “at the very least… an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in the crime. Holder knew that Justice would be besieged by the twin leak probes; but, according to aides, he was also beginning to feel a creeping sense of personal remorse.

But why have public intellectuals, including journalists, been in favor of progressive measures hemming in liberties, such as speech limitations? Further, once having come down in favor of leftist limitations on free speech, how can these same souls be surprised at a government which shows no scruple in hedging in their own rights? In fact, this is the very definition of “useful idiots,” who help tyrants achieve the reigns of power, only to see themselves cast aside after the fait accompli.

In fact, the downfall of journalism has been the insistence of its practitioners of the right to practice advocacy. So instead of reporting on events, they claim the right to give an edited and editorialized version, which is then meant to shape the minds of decision-makers and the masses. Sadly, these same journalistic advocates seem to have no functional knowledge of the repression of free speech and license of the press in the kinds of leftist regimes their advocacy would inevitably lead to.

III. History Lesson—A Bill of Rights for Everyone, or Nobody

Ben Franklin observed to his other Founding Fathers at the signing of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776—“We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately.” It is shocking so many journalists cannot fathom that any attack against a single American’s rights to free speech is an attack against the rights of all.

There was no “right” to free speech in any communist country, since the state owned all rights and used them as it saw fit to benefit all persons, not just individuals. Consider the following recent description of Marxist repression of free speech, which occurs even today in China, “Chinese government censors forced journalists at a Guangzhou newspaper in southern China to replace an editorial calling for political reform with a tribute to the Communist Party.”

Under Hitler, the press was tightly controlled:

When Adolf Hitler took power in 1933, the Nazis controlled less than three percent of Germany’s 4,700 papers. The elimination of the German multi-party political system not only brought about the demise of hundreds of newspapers produced by outlawed political parties; it also allowed the state to seize the printing plants and equipment of the Communist and Social Democratic Parties, which were often turned over directly to the Nazi Party. In the following months, the Nazis established control or exerted influence over independent press organs.

Consider Vladimir Lenin’s chilling decree on Suppression of Hostile Newspapers of 1917:

In the serious decisive hour of the revolution, and the day immediately following it, the Provisional Revolutionary Committee was compelled to adopt a whole series of measures against the counter revolutionary press of all shades.

Immediately on all sides cries arose that the new socialist authority was violating, in this way, the essential principles of its program by an attempt against the freedom of the press.

The Workers’ and Soldiers’ Government draws the attention of the population to the fact that in our country, behind this liberal shield, there is practically hidden the liberty for the richer class to seize into their hand the lion’s share of the whole press and by this means to poison the minds and bring confusion into the consciousness of the masses.

Everyone knows that the bourgeois press is one of the most powerful weapons of the bourgeoisie. Especially in this critical moment when the new authority, that of the workers and peasants, is in process of consolidation. It was impossible to leave this weapon in the hands of the enemy at a time when it is not less dangerous than bombs and machine guns. This is why temporary and extraordinary measures have been adopted for the purpose of cutting off the stream of mire and calumny in which the yellow and green press would be glad to drown the young victory of the people.

As soon as the new order will be consolidated, all administrative measures against the press will be suspended; full liberty will be given it within the limits of responsibility before the law, in accordance with the broadest and most progressive regulations in this respect.

Bearing in mind, however, the fact that any restrictions of the freedom of the press, even in critical moments, are admissible only within the bound of necessity, the Council of People’s Commissaries decrees as follows:

General Rules on the Press.

  1. The following organs of the press shall be subject to be closed: (a) those inciting to open resistance or disobedience towards the Workers’ and Peasants’ Government; (b) those sowing confusion by means of an obviously calumniatory perversion of facts; (c) those inciting to acts of a criminal character punishable by the penal laws.
  2. The temporary or permanent closing of any organ of the press shall be carried out only by a resolution of the Council of People’s Commissaries.
  3. The present decree is of a temporary nature and will be revoked by special ukaz when the normal conditions of public life will be reestablished.

Conclusion

Consider four essential arguments against censorship:

  1. If we silence an opinion, for all we know, we are silencing truth.
  2. A wrong opinion may contain a grain of truth necessary for finding the whole truth.
  3. Commonly held opinions tend to become prejudices unless forced to be defended.
  4. Unless commonly held opinions are contested from time to time, they lose their vitality.

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Kelly OConnell -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Kelly O’Connell is an author and attorney. He was born on the West Coast, raised in Las Vegas, and matriculated from the University of Oregon. After laboring for the Reformed Church in Galway, Ireland, he returned to America and attended law school in Virginia, where he earned a JD and a Master’s degree in Government. He spent a stint working as a researcher and writer of academic articles at a Miami law school, focusing on ancient law and society. He has also been employed as a university Speech & Debate professor. He then returned West and worked as an assistant district attorney. Kelly is now is a private practitioner with a small law practice in New Mexico.


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