America: Where Government Decides Who Writes The News

In Soviet Russia…

Oh never mind, that joke is sort of played out.

Anyway, Russia in general has a bad history with journalists. Under Putin’s control alone there have numerous “questionable” deaths of Journalists in various different ways, from street thugs to bullets from unknown shooters.

In America we are slightly more civilized about it. Instead we just pass laws that prevent certain people from getting full protection by laws, simply because they don’t work for a big news conglomerate. That’s right, I don’t qualify for laws that protect journalists because Diane Feinstein says so.

Journalists and bloggers who report news to the public will be protected from being forced to testify about their work under a media shield bill passed by a Senate committee Thursday.

But the new legal protections will not extend to the controversial online website Wikileaks and others whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents … without authorization.”

The final hurdle for the Judiciary Committee was defining who is a journalist in the digital era.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website.

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” she said.

Feinstein introduced an amendment that defines a “covered journalist” as someone who gathers and reports news for “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.” The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any “legitimate news-gathering activities.”

But the bill also makes it clear that the legal protection is not absolute. Federal officials still may “compel disclosure” from a journalist who has information that could stop or prevent crimes such as murder, kidnapping or child abduction or prevent “acts of terrorism” or significant harm to national security.

LA Times

Basically this new Shield Law does absolutely nothing…except codify in law (if Feinstein’s amendment is included) that bloggers and the new media are not journalists. 

This is odd, because I’ve received media credentials and press passes at quite a few events in the past. Not only that but I regularly disseminate news to the readers of both my blog and the readers of Damn Straight Politics, but I guess since I’m on the wrong side of the fence from Feinstein she doesn’t really care.

The really stupid thing is this part here:

[T]he new legal protections will not extend to…[those] whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents … without authorization.”

See, the whole point of a “media shield” is so that whistleblowers and people with UNauthorized primary source documents will feel safe in revealing the information to journalists.

The press is supposed to hold the government, and other big organizations, accountable (not that they’ve really done that lately), but it will be really freakin’ difficult to do that if sources are too scared of the federal government forcing a journalist to give up there name.

Thanks for hamstringing the 4th estate.

Matt Drudge was, understandably, outraged at this entire proposition.

Comments from Sen. Feinstein yesterday on who’s a reporter were disgusting. 17-year old ‘blogger’ is as important as Wolf Blitzer. Fascist!

— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) September 13, 2013

Federal judge once ruled Drudge ‘is not a reporter, a journalist, or a newsgatherer.’ Millions of readers a day come for cooking recipes??!

— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) September 13, 2013

Gov’t declaring who qualifies for freedom of press in digital age is ridiculous! It belongs to anyone for any reason. No amendment necessary

— MATT DRUDGE (@DRUDGE) September 13, 2013

As was Mike Lee (R-UT), who delivered this statement:

It strikes me that we are on dangerous territory if we are drawing distinctions that are treating some engaged in the process of reporting and journalism better than others. If we are advantaging those who happen to receive a paycheck from a corporate media entity over those who happen to be citizens….I for one would have deep troubles with legislation from Congress saying ‘we will grant special privileges if you happen to work for a corporate media interest’….It seems to me the First Amendment protects the activity, not the employment status of the person engaging in it.


What disturbs me most is the creepy fetish our current “main stream” news organizations seem to have with the current administration.

According to reporters at The Washington Post and The Washington Examiner, somewhere between 14 and 19 former journalists have jumped ship and moved to working for the Obama administration. As John Nolte has pointed out at Breitbart:

Why would anyone enamored enough with an Obama administration they want to go work for do anything that might make a potential employer uncomfortable — you know, like actually report on ObamaCare and the economy honestly, or dig into Benghazi and the IRS?

The media is left-wing and crusading enough without the potential of a cushy government job being held out as a carrot.

And with the strange number of top “news” executive with family or friends in the current administration, I get the sinking feeling that this shield law is the beginning of a very nasty period of time for New Media.


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Categorised in: America, Conservative, Constitution, Media, Politics, World

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