“Fake News” Is Still Subject To Freedom Of Speech And Press

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Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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Let me be very clear…

I don’t care if our president liberal or conservative, democratic or republican, the freedom of speech and press are two constitutional mandates we have built our country on.

If you haven’t heard, the Trump Administration hand-picked media outlets to join Press Secretary Sean Spicer for a gaggle in his office. Simply put, the intention of the “hand selection” of who can and cannot join a White House press briefing, especially in the instant, shows some blatant disregard for differing editorial slants, in part by the administration.

Trust me, I am no fan of CNN, the New York Daily News, and Buzzfeed (a few of the outlets blocked for an off-camera press gaggle). Several of those publications drop to new lows in reporting; yet, even in the ignorant distribution of misinformation (all media included, even myself), constitutional rights supersede a childish dislike of the media.

The events of today present a scenario that many didn’t expect. Being one of the many to vote for Donald Trump and rest all of our future interests on his presidency, I can maybe speak on the behalf of many conservatives and libertarian types that view this as a smack in the face to document and virtues he swore to protect.

Though I will face ridicule from many members of the nationalist flights of the Republican Party, freedom of speech and press resides as one of the most important freedoms to people. Even members of the “fake” news media are entitled to such protections, even if they feed the masses lies.

In the First Continental Congress, in the Appeal to the Inhabitants of Quebec, many of our founders broadly characterized the freedom of the press as a very sacred right.

“The last right we shall mention regards the freedom of the press. The importance of this consists, besides the advancement of truth, science, morality, and arts in general, in its diffusion of liberal sentiments on the administration of Government, its ready communication of thoughts between subjects, and its consequential promotion of union among them, whereby oppressive officers are shamed or intimidated into more honorable and just modes of conducting affairs,” the Appeal proclaimed.

As I mentioned above, this definition of a free press is monumentally broad. Though it mentions the “advancement of truth,” I personally define this component to be truth to the perspective of the publisher of the alleged remark that embodies some truth.

This very occurrence should remind us that the United States was, and still is, a marketplace of ideas, cultures, and people.

We cannot abandon that. I do still have hope with the Administration, yet we mustn’t be afraid of looking and asking for answers for the acts of our elected officials (even if we did vote for them).