A Free Press

The first Amendment speaks to freedom of the Press.  I wonder what that means?  One would think it would be illegal to publish classified design details for a top secret weapon, or would it?  Although probably not wise, the news media might believe they had a legal right to report details of such a weapon if their informations was based upon independent knowledge, like that found in scientific departments of major universities.

What if a newspaper or magazine reported the detailed formula for an amazing new drug?  Suppose the magazine had paid an independent source who in fact had stolen the information?  Dealing in stolen goods?   Hmmm.

The 7/24 news media has become a tough competitive business.  Success standards seem to hinge upon the most “first to report” and most “classified” information.  Claiming one or both of these is intended to mark that news organization as special and worthy of continued viewing.  (Oh, and advertisers to buy more ad time too.)  Hmmm.

The Obama Administration is experiencing a bumpy road with revelations about a secret subpoena for a lot of telephone information concerning Associated Press employees.  The implications are that someone in the government was passing classified information to  someone in the AP.  The reaction by the rest of the press corp and its management has been enlightening.

“How can a reporter be wrong doing what he does for a living”, one executive asked.

Of course, even this issue is not black or white.  Whistle blower revelation are widely regarded as valuable first Amendment benefits.  So this AP issue will grind along with arguments and counter arguments, one side trumping and the other counter trumping.

So, is this about “principle” or “substance”.  Is the leaking of confidential information concerning a foiled airplane bomber defensible on “principle” or is it defensible on the basis that this was important information for the public to know?  Hmmm.

There are plenty of examples in modern history where leaks exposed secret (classified) government actions which had the potential to involve the country in war.  While the same questions can be asked, most would agree that those revelations was a public service even if the information was obtained through someone not authorized to release the information.  But, do covert operations intended to protect the US fall into the same category?

What amazes me, however, is that the press gets its back up over the “principle” and basically claims carte blanche for freedom of the press.  No discussion of substance and why the public had a need to know.

Yet if the government is the target, why are there not more exposes about wealth accumulation of Congress members?  Why are there not more descriptions of the inefficiencies or ineffectiveness of certain (or all) government agencies, in other words why government is not delivering what it is there to deliver?

I do not know the answer to those questions.  I suspect, however, these subjects are too complex and involved to “sell” on the 7/24 media.  I also suspect they strike to close to home.  An effective investigative news media might find a lot more government investigations (and new rules) if the press decided to look under the official dealings of Congress and government agencies.

Lastly, I think the press realizes that this issue is “bi-partisan”.    Both Democrats and Republicans can agree to keep the Press looking other places.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Barack Obama, Democratic Party, Politics, Republican Party

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