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War Against The Press

Plurality of “Republicans” want to empower the president to shut down media outlets …

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Most people have strong emotions about U.S. president Donald Trump.  The proverbial lightning rod, there is very little in the way of lukewarm when it comes to the nation’s forty-fifth president.

It’s either/ or.  Mutual exclusivity.  Hot or cold … but whatever side you are on, you are “all in.”

Trump is worshiped by his cult (which includes broad swaths of intellectually incurious “Republicans”) and detested by his enemies – increasingly irrational, hypocritical socialists hellbent on hastening the demise of this once-proud nation.

In fact Trump continues to be blessed when he is persecuted … because those calling for his head (literally)

The responses of these factions to various current events (most of which are dictated by Trump’s unfiltered twitter feed) are uniform … and reflexive.  And thus, predictable.

Sad, isn’t it?

We think so …

This news site has emerged as a rare agnostic voice when it comes to Trump.  Obviously we endorsed him (twice) and railed against all of the establishment “Republicans” who sought to destroy his populist candidacy in pursuit of their status quo open borders/ welfare stating/ warmongering.  But while seemingly firm in his opposition to establishment thinking, Trump has strayed on several occasions from the populist promises he campaigned on, and when he has … we have called him out for it (here and here).

We were especially disappointed in his cave to the GOP establishment on tax relief.  He should have demanded far more relief, in our view, and he should have insisted more of it be targeted to the middle income earners who got him elected.

Ultimately, we believe such a tax plan would have added steam – and sustainability – to the modest economic uptick the nation is currently experiencing.

But we digress …

Arguably Trump’s most influential enemy is the fourth estate, which went “all in” against him in 2016 and has covered him with an extreme negative bias since he took office.  Not surprisingly, Trump has pushed back – blasting purveyors of #FakeNews as “enemies of the state.”  That rhetoric has never offended us, because we believe these corporate-controlled “news” organizations deserve every bit of vitriol Trump has heaped upon them.

Having said that, the results of a new Ipsos poll published by The Daily Beast offer “cause for pause.”

According to the survey, a plurality of “Republicans” – 43 percent – believe “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.”

Wait … what? 

“The findings present a sobering picture for the fourth estate, with respondents showing diminished trust in the media and increased support for punitive measures against its members,” Sam Stein wrote for the outlet.  “They also illustrate the extent to which Trump’s anti-press drumbeat has shaped public opinion about the role the media plays in covering his administration.”

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To be clear: Trump has proposed some ill-advised and constitutionally dubious measures for dealing with the media, but he has never sought to appropriate unto himself the authority to shut certain outlets down.  Nor would congress ever grant him such authority (we don’t think).  Nor would courts ever uphold such heavy-handed censorship (again, we don’t think).

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is unambiguous on this issue …

(Click to view)

(Via: National Archives)

For those of you who don’t read cursive, it says …

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.

Again, there is no ambiguity in this text.  Freedom of the press is so essential to the functioning of our society that our nation’s Founding Fathers specifically enumerated it within the broader context of free speech.

So whatever you think of the conduct of these outlets (or for that matter, this outlet), shutting them down is completely out of the question.

It’s unconstitutional.  And anti-American.  No matter what ideological mooring or partisan motivation you ascribe to it.

In fact, it’s embarrassing we are even having this sort of conversation in a free society.  This is not 1920s Moscow.  Or 1930s Berlin.

In the immortal words of Cleo McDowell (a.k.a. John Amos), “this is America, Jack!”

Yet while we will eternally defend freedom of the press for everyone, it is important to recognize that many corporate-owned media outlets – including Trump’s favorite channel – have brought this upon themselves.

The regurgitative biases of these outlets make a mockery of journalistic ideals … shaming the so-called “objective” standards to which true scribes hold themselves (and their colleagues) accountable.  In other words, many of these outlets do not deserve to be saved.

Meanwhile, the social media filters through which much of this one-sided content is flowing have proven themselves to be similarly one-sided …

Obviously none of this is (nor will it ever be) justification for empowering the state with Goebbels-esque authority over the gathering and dissemination of news … but it is something these outlets should keep in mind as they move forward.

They have a sacred responsibility … and when this responsibility is abandoned in pursuit of liberal herdthink, corporate diktats and blind, agenda-driven “reporting,” they should not be surprised to encounter backlash.

***

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