“The First Amendment Only Applies to Forms of Journalism that Existed in 1791” – Dick Durbin

Okay, he didn’t actually say that, but that seemed to be the general idea he was presenting this Sunday when he went on Fox News Sunday and said this:

“But here is the bottom line — the media shield law, which I am prepared to support, and I know Sen. Graham supports, still leaves an unanswered question, which I have raised many times: What is a journalist today in 2013? We know it’s someone that works for Fox or AP, but does it include a blogger? Does it include someone who is tweeting? Are these people journalists and entitled to constitutional protection? We need to ask 21st century questions about a provision that was written over 200 years ago.”

The Daily Caller

Honestly I think Durbin is confused about something. There was no “media shield law” written 200 years ago…unless he means the First Amendment. In which case, there is no question about who is entitled to that constitutional protection, every citizen of the United States is entitled to freedom of speech, press…well I’ll just let you read it.

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.

– I put the important bits in bold in case Durbin is confused

Let me translate that. Congress cannot make a law abridging freedom of speech or freedom of the press.


Now what I do as a member of the new media is shockingly similar to what the press did at the time this amendment was ratified. There were no press badges and you didn’t need to belong to a large organization (strangely Durbin’s idea of what constitutes the press seems to have similarities to Chris Hayes’ idea of what constitutes terrorism). The “press” were basically whoever had the money to buy a printing press and could find writers that would get people to buy your paper.

The point is, of course, that Durbin (like most of the liberally minded in Congress and within the current administration) has a problem with the New Media. We mostly consist of people running small blogs, but together we have really become a massive headache for people like Durbin and he would rather this new federal media shield law, that he is so ready to support, wouldn’t provide us with protection.

Because we wouldn’t be “the press”, despite the fact that we are the ones usually doing all the real work.

But you know what is really funny? I think Durbin and Obama (and most of the other supporters of this federal shield law) are talking a lot of crap when it comes to support of this media shield law.

I mean the entire reason for them to support it right now is to try to deflect some of the heat from the AP scandal, but apparently the way the bill (Free Flow of Information Act 2009) was amended (by the Obama administration) in 2009 would have given the Associated Press just about no protection from the government whatsoever and that’s the bill that Obama wants to resurrect.

However, when it comes to national security matters, the wishes of the government take precedence, and the bill would make it extremely difficult for a news organization to quash a subpeona for confidential sources. The government would have to make its case before a judge, which it did not have to do with the AP phone records case. But that judge would be compelled to give “deference” to the government, thereby throwing out the balancing tests required for other matters.

Basically, the law Obama touted last week in reaction to outrage over the AP phone records case would have done little to prevent to AP phone records case.

York Daily Record


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Categorised in: Constitution, Media, Obama, Politics

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