Saturday, February 25, 2017

1st Amendment Under Fire

I am amazed that the mainstream news media is under attack. It is a clear effort to deflect the spotlight from the circus which has become the White House and focus it on the news media.

The Washington Post reported yesterday that some major news outlets were uninvited from a press briefing in the article CNN, New York Times, other media barred from White House briefing. While this is not, in and of itself, a violation of the 1st Amendment it does represent a threat to free access of media to the President and the Executive Branch of the government. 

The First Amendment is clear.

Amendment I

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.
Fortunately, legal opinion in the subsequent years has determined that the amendment applies to the entire government. 

So, the question is did excluding news outlets from a White House briefing cross the line and represent an abridgment of the freedom of the press or freedom of speech?

Based upon my reading of a Legal Information Institute, probably not. But it certainly is a poor practice.

The President evidently does not like some elements of the press, especially those who report contrary to his wishes. Limiting press access is dangerous and borders on violating the First Amendment--not because he limits their access, but because he limits their access based upon what they write and therefore violates the free speech aspect of the first amendment.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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