Like Putin, or Stalin, Trump knows he doesn't need to convince his base that everything he says is true; just that everybody else is a liar, including the press that fact-checks him. Because when people believe that the real truth is unknowable, they grow cynical, and prefer to tune out and believe no one.
And so we have "the enemy of the people," a phrase straight out of George Orwell's dark imagination. But the real enemy of the people is never a free press, which holds the powerful accountable. It is a government that wants to be the sole arbiter of truth.
My emphasis. I left these comments:
A free press is a derivative of free speech, which belongs to everyone. Yet free speech is under attack, including by much of the press. The attack masquerades as fighting “fake news”--a term that came to us courtesy of the left after Trump’s win. The attack comes as “net neutrality,” “campaign finance reform,” calls to ban “hate speech,” fear mongering about so-called “dark money,” and other gimmicks. It comes in the form of political threats, such as when Senator Diane Feinstein told Facebook, Google, and Twitter that their platforms were being “misused,” "and you have to be the ones who do something about it—or we will”--which is censorship by proxy.
Much of the press, including the Star-Ledger, supports these free speech restrictions. That’s shocking. You can't have freedom of the press without freedom of speech, which makes freedom of speech the more fundamental right. Restrict freedom of speech for non-press individuals, and sooner or later the restrictions will be extended to the press. It is truly disingenuous to lecture us on the importance of press freedom while supporting free speech restrictions on everyone else.
Journalists are not some privileged elite. Their free speech rights are no more important than anyone else’s. Except in very narrow cases where speech is directly and imminently linked to violence or fraud—which are really not free speech issues—no one’s freedom of speech and expression should be restricted. All free speech is vital to individual liberty, to a free republic, and to truth-seeking.
There’s no question that a free press is a vital means of holding the government accountable. But who holds the press accountable--especially a press that is complicit in supporting a statist political faction that seeks to roll back individual rights not just to speech but gun ownership, free association, and property? The rest of us--the non-press masses--through our rights to express ourselves at our own expense, that's who. Who the hell is the Star-Ledger to stop us from holding them accountable?
Note the precision of the Framers. The First Amendment reads: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” First speech, then freedom of the press. It’s obvious that speech is the broader principle. Press is a form of free speech, but not the only form. If this is not clear enough, observe that a journalist reporting on a President’s policy is practicing freedom of the press, but also necessarily practicing freedom of speech. But someone giving a speech in a lecture hall on that policy is necessarily expressing her freedom of speech, even though not press freedom.
It’s shocking that so much of the press, especially on the Left, so strongly fights to restrict freedom of speech for the rest of us, when a few moments of thought should tell them that there is no way to restrict others’ speech and claim that such restrictions shouldn’t be applied to the press, as well.
The First Amendment
Freedom of Speech and Press are Linked
Obama Urges Amendment to Overturn the First Amendment
Anti-First Amendment Democracy for All Amendment Introduced in Senate
Citizens United and the Battle for Free Speech in America—Steve Simpson
Steve Simpson on Continuing Threats to Corporate Free Speech—TOS interview