How is the First Amendment compatible with government defining journalists?
From an editorial in the Montgomery Advertiser: “Defining ‘journalist’ may become necessary.”
Freedom of the press is essential. Freedom of the press is important to me. Freedom of the press is not going anywhere in Alabama.
When a state senator in Alabama begins a newspaper editorial this way, you naturally wonder why he gives such assurances. Del Marsh is the current president of the Alabama state senate. He is a Republican.
The reason he felt the assurances are necessary can be found in the very next lines.
With the national explosion of partisan political blogs and shady, fly-by-night websites offering purposely skewed and inaccurate interpretations of hard news events, I recently asked the Secretary of the Senate to put together a definition of what qualifies as a legitimate journalist.
My concern focused on the confusion that could result if a number of partisan bloggers requested official credentials to cover legislative happenings from the press rooms located in the rear of each chamber at the State House.
This is the philosophy behind attacks on the First Amendment by people like Chuck Schumer, being pushed by a Republican state politician. Who is he, as a politician or lawmaker, to judge whether a journalist is “partisan” or “shady.” How can a government that claims to have a First Amendment ever have “a definition of what qualifies as a legitimate journalist.” I have no idea how limited space will be apportioned in the press rooms, but deciding who is legitimate and who is not is forbidden by the First Amendment.
Allowing agenda-driven bloggers the same access and legitimacy as serious, long-established and unbiased reporters could soon create a confusing, circus-like atmosphere and blur the line between promoting opinions and reporting facts.
This man is expecting us to read that there are “unbiased reporters,” and not laugh at him. I cannot believe such naïve authoritarianism is being offered here from a Republican.
While a free and open press is vital and necessary, there are some who are attempting to hijack the profession by promoting raw political agendas from the confines of the press gallery. This is not freedom of the press, it is deceitful and wrong.
Uh, no sir. That is exactly freedom of the press and you are the one who is wrong and either deceitful or ignorant. In fact, through much of American history newspapers were proud of being organs of a political party. It is only now that the Democrats have won over much of the mainstream media that they are claiming the pretense of objective journalism. The distinction you are making and asking the state to make is a knife slash at the throat of the First Amendment. It isn’t dangerous because of consequences down the road. It is a nullification of the First Amendment on its own terms.
Several past and present members of the Capitol Press Corps reporters have indicated to us that they do not fear this process because they agree that paid political operatives must not be allowed to disguise themselves as journalists.
Yes, that is what successful political operatives would say in order to gain an advantage over recent competition.
Thanks to the Daily Caller for bringing this to our attention.