Rush Limbaugh auction highlights that NY Times, Wash Post refuse to defend public from government encroachment on free speech, are unworthy of freedoms granted them 10/21/07Posted by Steve Boriss in Free speech.
Modern Journalism, which was invented in the book Liberty and the News (Walter Lippmann,1920), was based on the premise that the Founding Fathers were wrong. They had thought the greatest threat to liberty was government, and the most important job of newspapers was to thwart government’s natural instincts to encroach on the people’s individual rights, like free speech. Jefferson likened newspapers’ role to providing a “fence” against government encroachment. But the Modern Journalism movement rejected this role and decided that providing “truth” was job #1.
So it is disturbing, but not surprising, each time we see those supposed human pillars of democracy at the NY Times and Washington Post “hop the fence” and side with the powerful against the free speech rights of the people. As Slate’s Micky Kaus has pointed out, these papers shamelessly backed a McCain-Feingold campaign finance bill that made it illegal for citizens, but not newspapers, to engage in certain types of free speech 60 days before an election. The Times and Post were silent last year when a group of Senators threatened ABC’s broadcasting license because they were unhappy with the program “Pathway to 911.” And now, the Washington Post writes a sophomoric article about Rush Limbaugh fetching $2.1 million for charity by auctioning-off a threatening letter from Senators, while burying the lede — his quote that “It got this kind of money because it represents one of the most outrageous abuses of federal power in modern American history, and that is what makes it a collector’s item.” But as Jefferson well knew, the people are not fools. In part because the Times and the Post often squander and abuse their own First Amendment responsibilities, they may soon become collector’s items themselves.