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Cops And Bloggers




There’s an interesting story this week coming out of Terrebonne Parish – which is located on the gulf coast of the state of Louisiana just southwest of New Orleans.

(So yeah … still in the United States).

According to WWLTV 4 (CBS – New Orleans), the sheriff of this coastal parish raided a private residence earlier this week in the hopes of unmasking the identity of an anonymous blogger who was criticizing … you guessed it … the sheriff and his cronies.

The blog – entitled Exposedat – began publishing content earlier this year alleging all manner of corruption involving parish sheriff Jerry Larpenter (yes, with an “L”) and local district attorney Joseph Waitz, Jr., among others.

One of the stories allegedly libeled the parish’s new insurance agent – which prompted Larpenter’s men to raid the home of a municipal police officer whom they believe is associated with the website.

That raid netted a pair of computers and five cell phones.  Additional warrants were issued for social media information connected to the yet-to-be-identified author of the blog.

Crazy, huh?  Yes … and more than a little bit scary.

In America, the press (even bloggers) are protected by First Amendment guarantees permitting them to criticize elected officials and other public figures with near impunity.  The standard for defamation in such cases has been set deliberately and exceedingly high – and with good reason.  The goal, after all, is to prevent those in power from using the courts to intimidate their critics – which is the essence of free speech.

This, of course, is something we know a little bit about.  It’s also something we’ve criticized politicians for seeking to undermine.

Recently, though, America’s Fourth Estate has entered a disappointing new phase – especially at the mainstream (a.k.a. corporate media) level.

It boils down to this: Investigative objectivity has been replaced by agenda driving.  Reporting has been replaced by regurgitation.  And journalists have been replaced by “access whores” – dutiful accommodators who take great care never to anger the people they are supposed to be holding accountable (lest they miss out on a “scoop”).

How bad have things gotten?  Look no further than the recent #DNCLeaks scandal, which exposed a frightening willingness on the part of establishment media to collaborate with party officials in an effort to rig the 2016 Democratic presidential primary.

This wholesale subservience of the corporate media apparatus to powerful special interests (and their bought-and-paid-for politicians) has created a vacuum … one that’s being filled by blogs and other new media.

That’s good …

The downside?  These independent outlets (many of them “one-man bands”) usually lack the resources to stand up to strong-arm tactics like those employed this week by the Terrebonne Parish sheriff.

Seriously … do you think a cop would pull a stunt like this on a mainstream media outlet?

Of course not.

But there’s a bigger problem … lately the establishment press has done precious little to warrant such a reaction.