1st Amendment Musings
by J. Kb
Twitchy has noticed a brouhaha over Curt Schillings tweet about a guy wearing a shirt that was… anti-media.
Off the bat, I am not advocating for lynching journalists, and there was quite a bit of backlash on Twitter against that sentiment.
But, this T-shirt is reflective of what poling has been telling us, that trust in the media is at an all time, single digits, low.
It is not difficult to see why.
Rolling Stone’s article A rape on campus was found by a jury to be so filled with obvious and malicious distortions of the truth, that it defamed University of Virginia administrator Nicole Eramo.
We found out recently that Donna Brazile was leaking debate questions to Hillary Clinton from her position at CNN, and that Wolf Blitzer asked Trump questions during an interview, written by the DNC. In fact, CNN was in collusion with the Hillary Campaign.
There was all the ad hominem attacks on Trump as a racist and a homophobe.
Before all this, there was the Killian Documents controversy, in which Dan Rather showed knowingly fake documents on the air to turn people against GW Bush. When Rather got caught, the NY Times defended him by saying the documents were “fake but accurate.” No…. if they are fake, they are by definition not accurate.
All of this is just the tip of a very large iceberg of dishonesty.
I believe in the First Amendment. A free press is critical for a functioning representative democracy. The work of great journalists like Edward R. Murrow, doing important things like taking on Joseph McCarthy, helps an informed electorate make good choices.
Those times are dead.
What happens when the media drops even the pretense of objectivity and picks sides? What happens when the difference between reporting and an OpEd is blurred?
As much as America loves freedom of the press, this nation oversaw the trials at Nuremberg, where Nazi propagandists were executed. Propagandists Julius Streicher was executed for war crimes. William Joyce was executed by the British for treason for publishing pro-Nazi propaganda. The free speech loving Allied countries decided that propagandists were morally culpable for the horrors committed by the people inspired by their work.
So, in light of the overwhelming media bias, lies, and demagoguery over objectivity, it is an important question to ask: what separates a journalist from a propagandists?
Let’s play a hypothetical:
Election 2024, Democrat vs. Republican. It is October, past the filing date for a new candidate. The GOP candidate is neck-and-neck, or even leading in the polls. Leading media personalities, in a JournoList like conspiracy, decide to completely fabricate evidence that the GOP candidate is child molester. Fake victims are interviewed. Fake documents held up as evidence. The nation recoils in horror at the allegations and the GOP candidate suffers a Goldwater-esque defeat.
The election is over, the truth comes out. Perhaps several of the ranking media members are successfully sued by the disgraced ex candidate. But the real damage is done. An election has been influenced. Libel and slander are torts, so no criminal liability is attached.
Is this within the bounds of a free press? Is this what our Founding Fathers envisioned the role of the of Fourth Estate to be? Or was this a crime against humanity?
Given the tidal wave of lies and distortions of reality that we’ve seen in the last two election cycles, is the aforementioned hypothetical really that extreme a scenario?
Maybe right now, calling for the lynching of journalists is little beyond the pale. But perhaps that we are seeing this sentiment voiced is public means that we have some serious discussion to have about the future of journalism in this country.
January 23, 2017
January 23, 2017