The greatest threat to the First Amendment and freedom of the press is the Leftmedia.
By Mark Alexander ~
“Patriotism is as much a virtue as justice, and is as necessary for the support of societies as natural affection is for the support of families.” —Benjamin Rush (1773)
In a non-contextual defense of the mass media, I often see cited the following quote: “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.”
While I believe Thomas Jefferson was correct in that assessment, in context he was referring to an institution that would live up to the high journalistic standards expected of a “free press,” as well as a people who would be able to make decisions based on sound analysis rather than soundbites.
Jefferson also offered this observation on the press: “Newspapers … serve as chimneys to carry off noxious vapors and smoke.” In 1805, Jefferson wrote, “During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare.”
Ominously, he added, “These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.”
And given the propagation of “fake news” by the contemporary media, Jefferson was downright prophetic: “The press is impotent when it abandons itself to falsehood.”
The prevalence of press partiality had been noted by Benjamin Franklin years earlier. In 1789, ahead of deliberations for our Bill of Rights, he wrote, “If by the liberty of the press … it means the liberty of affronting, calumniating and defaming one another, I, for my part, own myself willing to part with my share of it.”
In every era since our founding, some journalists have upheld the high standards expected of a free press. However, most have abused their positions, aligned their reports with their personal perspectives and allegiances, and presented their opinions as facts. This abuse of the free-press privilege is, as Jefferson noted, “deeply to be regretted.”
Moreover, such abuse in the modern era of mass media and social media platforms is very dangerous to the future of constitutional Rule of Law and the Liberty it enshrines.
For much of the last half-century, collusion between the Democrat Party and its propagandistic press corps has led to the institutionalization of media malpractice — an abject betrayal of the First Amendment.
Our Founders clearly intended the assurance of freedom of speech and the press to be among the most significant checks on centralized governmental power. But by the late 20th century, the press had become the primary empowering agent of statists who supported the central government’s exponential (and extra-constitutional) growth.
Thirty years ago, Americans somehow survived on less than 30 minutes of national news in the evening and whatever could be gleaned from the newspapers the next morning.
Today, however, media outlets inundate the airwaves and the Internet with hyperbolic news banners and alerts, ad nauseam, in order to secure market share and ad revenue for their 24-hour news-recycling operations. And print outlets, though believing themselves superior because they must be read rather than watched, are actually no better. Communally, the MSM’s “journalists” have become shills for leftist ideology.
The net result is more than a degradation of the First Amendment — it is a systemic degradation of American Patriotism.
There is a distinct division between conservatives and leftists in regard to patriotism and optimism, and the constant drone of depressive Leftmedia indoctrination is the most significant factor accelerating that division. Anti-American sentiments inevitably emerge when Leftmedia outlets select and frame the news in such pessimism, but good news does not sell. Moreover, the deeply dispirited denizens of The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and other outlets dole out depressing perspective to an increasingly depressed audience.
Recent polling indicates that Democrats are substantially less “proud to be American” now than when Gallup began its longevity polling on this question almost two decades ago. In 2013, during the height of the Obama years, 56% of Democrats were “extremely proud.” Today, just 32% are proud. “Liberals” are even less proud of our national heritage, down to only 23%.
Notably, this division didn’t begin with Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 defeat of Barack Obama’s presumed successor, Hillary Clinton. The Demo slide began during Obama’s second term, only accelerating after Trump’s election.
Recently, New York’s inherited governor, Andrew Cuomo, captured this depressive despair when broadcasting his views: “We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.”
The political disparity between those with hope versus those who despair, and the decline in “happiness” and increasing sense of isolation, are arguably the results of contrasting political visions for our future.
The arrogant Leftmedia has, for decades, viewed grassroots Americans as a “basket of deplorables,” in Clinton’s words.
But the Left certainly has high regard for its MSM brethren. In a recent CNN op-ed by Notre Dame “ethics” professor Joseph Holt, he declared that the press is our “protector” and insisted, “We thank soldiers for their service because they devote themselves to protecting our freedoms, and we should. But we should also thank the media for the same reason — especially when the stakes have never been higher.”
What Holt and his ilk fail to realize is that the Leftmedia’s rhetoric is largely responsible for our nation’s epidemic of “Trump Derangement Syndrome” and the resulting transition from civil discourse toward civil war.
In fact, so deranged are today’s Demo constituents that 57% of them now view socialism favorably. Just two years ago, 56% of Democrats viewed capitalism favorably. This alarming shift is the direct result of being dumbed down by leftist socialism deniers and their Leftmedia enablers, as evident in the emergence of absurd socialist candidates.
How can it be that so many of our fellow Americans have forgotten their history? How can so many of them believe that socialism is freedom-friendly?
Years ago, an author whom I hold in high esteem, C.S. Lewis, declared, “I never read the papers. Why does anyone? They’re nearly all lies, and one has to wade thru’ such reams of verbiage and ‘write up’ to find out even what they’re saying.”
Similar wisdom abounds.
G.K. Chesterton wrote, “Journalism is popular, but it is popular mainly as fiction. Life is one world, and life seen in the newspapers another.”
In his essay “The AmericanAmerican Press,” Mark Twain, a newspaper reporter early in his career, wrote, “There are laws to protect the freedom of the press’s speech, but none that are worth anything to protect the people from the press. … It seems to me that just in the ratio that our newspapers increase, our morals decay. The more newspapers the worse morals. Where we have one newspaper that does good, I think we have fifty that do harm.”
That notwithstanding, the Leftmedia colluded last week to protest Donald Trump’s introduction of “fake news” into the popular lexicon. This nationwide editorial “day of rage” was nothing more than a criticism of Trump for consistently calling out Leftmedia lies. Editors decried what they insist is Trump’s attack on freedom of the press, but make no mistake: The greatest threat to the First Amendment and freedom of the press, and to Liberty itself, IS the Leftmedia. Its relentless assault on Trump is eroding public confidence in the press.
And a footnote: While the Leftmedia elite were ranting about their First Amendment rights, according to research by the Freedom Forum Institute, fully 40% of Americans can’t name a single one of the five rights enshrined in our First Amendment. And 36% could only name one.
Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776
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