Freedom of the press is at the very top of the Bill of Rights, our founders’ list of freedoms essential to democracy. That a reporter can now be arrested in the United States for doing his job, asking a public official about public business in a public place, should send a chill of dread through the heart of every person in this country.
We of the 60's protest generation chafed under what we thought were abuses of power and infringements on our rights. We knew about Sen. McCarthy's black lists and were forewarned. Attempts to restrict the press were nascent and resisted by most Americans including our officials. Yes there was Watergate but that was resolved and Baker's reining in the CIA etc. We rested assured that >>> it wasn't so bad. The Constitution held and the Bill of Rights protected us. Walter Cronkite said his mind and engaged us in our government more than we ever realized. Even the NY Times defended us in our democracy and published the Pentagon Papers! Hard hitting investigative reporting that appeared fearless and erudite. That was our understanding of America's Freedom of the Press!
Back then anyway!
How could a sitting President openly threaten to end press briefings (as if the press were being annoying and didn't have the right to know anything unless he decided to tell them)? That is autocracy not democracy. Yet the threat is made and most of the press stays complacent. One realizes that these days the mainstream press has assumed a special role whereby they are somehow different from other citizens and that they no longer need respond to infringements of our rights as members of the citizenry. They are the press they say and not the same as regular citizens? They do not take infringing on our rights personally. It is as if they think they are a foreign press reporting on us from the outside and not personally involved as American citizens who are experiencing an attack on their own rights.
Yes, we must be must protect our freedom of the press. Even when the MSM is completely bought and touting the corporate line that is the very establishment that will lock reporters up if they don't say the right things. The press is the press's biggest enemy. But, yes, we should absolutely protect the press - for the Chris Hedges of the world and the rest of the very marginalized who tell the truth.
Given Trump is an authoritarian it should be obvious how important it is to support the free press now. One only has to look at what is going on in Turkey to see where Trump is trying to go. Every attempt to muzzle the free press must be fought. Journalists in this country have gone to jail rather than reveal their sources in some instances so they are not that well protected under the Constitution. Citizens have to make it absolutely clear that the free press must be supported, regardless of who owns the various newspapers, radio stations, TV networks and channels, and websites that provide news coverage.