Freedom needs Fourth Estate

One of the most disturbing characteristics of Trump’s nascent presidency is his browbeating the “legitimate” press (Main Stream Media) and glorifying propaganda tools such as Breitbart.
___The MSM are our greatest (only?) source of knowledge about the almost-certain to be unprincipled and dangerous and oligarchic antics of the Trump administration. The Washington press corps need our support.  A case in point:

Hohmann, James. “Monica Crowley losing White House job shows that the rules of politics still apply for Donald Trump.” Washington Post. January 17, 2017. Web.

There have also been so many developments related to Trump’s cabinet appointees that . . . stories that might have doomed past nominees have drawn less attention than Trump’s early-morning, made-for-cable tweets.
___For the past 10 days, the poster child for this phenomenon has been Monica Crowley, a TV talking head who despite a dearth of serious experience was appointed as the senior director of strategic communications on the National Security Council:     ___A steady stream of stories since the weekend before last has revealed pretty egregious examples of apparent plagiarism over a period of several years, from a 2012 book to her PhD dissertation and op-eds.
___[. . . .]  The transition team put out a statement saying, “Any attempt to discredit Monica is nothing more than a politically motivated attack that seeks to distract from the real issues facing this country.”
___[. . . .] Finally, because a handful of reporters doggedly pursued the story, the pressure became too much. Yesterday afternoon, Crowley sent a statement to the Washington Times to say that “after much reflection” she’s decided to stay in New York. She made no mention of plagiarism.   More . . . . 

We all know Hallie Jackson isn’t the only one who wants to see Trump’s taxes. She needs to know we “have her back,” that we appreciate her attempts to get information.  The goal of this blog is to publish and keep up to date various kinds of contact information for

  • major news organizations: MSNBC, CNN, NPR, PBS, others (even FOX)
  • newspaper (online) editorial pages
  • human rights organizations
  • watchdog groups

___We will regularly identify news stories that MSM need to be commended for, questioned about, and/or prodded to cover more completely. We will post information about those news items here with suggestions for media outlets and personalities to contact.

It will be helpful if you “follow” the blog. Building up a group of followers is the best way to begin to have the blog appear in internet searches.

Norton, Helen. “The Government’s Lies And The Constitution.” Indiana Law Journal 91.1 (2015): 73-120.

The government’s lies can be devastating. This is the case, for example, of its lies told to resist legal and political accountability for its misconduct.
___[. . . .] The substantial harms threatened by some government lies invite a search for ways to punish and prevent them. At the same time, however, the number of lies, the diversity of reasons for which they are told, and the variety of their effects combine to suggest that efforts to enforce blanket prohibitions against the government’s deliberate falsehoods would be both difficult and unwise.
___[. . . .]  The harms of lies in general and lies by the government in particular center on the liar’s effort to manipulate the listener in ways that are inherently disrespectful of the listener’s autonomy and dignity. As Harry Frankfurt explains:

The most irreducibly bad thing about lies is that they contrive
to interfere with, and to impair, our natural effort to apprehend
the real state of affairs. They are designed to prevent us from
being in touch with what is really going on. In telling his lie,
the liar tries to mislead us into believing that the facts are other
than they actually are. He tries to impose his will on us. 
(Harry Frankfurt, “On Truth, Lies, and Bullshit.”  The Philosophy of Deception 37.
Clancy Martin, ed., 2009).

“We the People of the United States . . . in Order to secure the Blessings of Liberty”

Does the First Amendment’s incontrovertible declaration that

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.”

apply to the actions of the President? The President can make no law, but can the President take actions that abridge the freedom of speech or of the press? If he does, and the Congress and courts do not step in to stop him, will the freedoms disappear?

We the People Must Protect Our Liberty

“. . .  what is clear is that the framing generation understood that liberty of the press mattered.  . . .   the Virginia Declaration of Rights of 1776 protected the press. [It reads] “That the freedom of the press is one of the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained but by despotic governments.” . . . James Madison’s original proposal to Congress [reads] “All of these formulations make it clear that the reason to protect the press is because it is a ‘bulwark’”—i.e., a protector against external danger—of liberty. The external danger to be feared, of course, was despotic government. The press, in other words, was an essential tool for the preservation of liberal democracy because it kept the people informed of misbehavior by government officials, and so permitted a response—ideally through the democratic process, but if that was denied then through revolution. That the Press Clause plays this role has been acknowledged by hordes of commentators and is not really controversial. But this acknowledgement places the Press Clause squarely at the center of the Democratic First Amendment.  (Bhagwat, Ashutosh. “The Democratic First Amendment.” Northwestern University Law Review 110.5 (2016): 1097-1124.)

Trump’s first news conference since his election demonstrated clearly enough that he either does not understand freedom of the press or that he is determined to abridge the freedom of the press by whatever means he can find at his disposal. One of the many accounts of that conference is titled, “Trump pits his staff against the press.

Trump’s constant denigration of the press during the campaign, and his rude and crude methods of quieting reporters hardly need documentation. Americans are concerned (angered? frightened? aggrieved?) about Trump’s attempts to thwart the press in order to limit what the American people know about the workings of his administration.

This blog will provide a forum for sharing both information about the Trump administration’s anti-press activities and actions readers and followers can take to counter those activities.

Watch this space for suggestions for contacting news media to show support and for ways to participate in actions opposing Trump’s policies and activities in relation to the press.

(Note: this blog has moved through several incarnations having to do with the 2016 Presidential campaign. Since the domain name is registered and is available for all uses of a blog, we will keep it as our focal point for the present although we will most likely move to a website or other format eventually.)