NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ‘THE GREATEST ENEMY OF PRESS FREEDOM’ IN A GENERATION

pressconferencePresident Obama Holds a Press Conference

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By Brendan Bordelon | Politico

New York Times reporter James Risen called the Obama administration “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation” on Friday, explaining that the White House seeks to control the flow of information and those who refuse to play along “will be punished.”

Poynter reports that Risen made the remarks while speaking at Sources and Secrets conference — a meeting of journalism , communication and government professionals held in New York City. The foreign policy reporter, who is currently fighting a fierce court battle with the federal government over his protection of a confidential source, warned that press freedom is under serious attack in today’s America.

In a speech kicking off the conference, Risen claimed that the Obama administration wants to “narrow the field of national security reporting” and “create a path for accepted reporting.” Those who stray from that path, he cautioned, “will be punished.”

The result is a “de facto Official Secrets Act,” Risen explained, making the current White House “the greatest enemy of press freedom that we have encountered in at least a generation.” And the media has been “too timid” in pushing back against the onslaught.

Some of that timidity was on display at the conference. Jeffrey Toobin, a writer for The New Yorker, denied that any constitutional protections for his profession even existed. “It won’t take me long to alienate everyone in the room,” he declared. “For better or worse, it has been clear there is no journalistic privilege under the First Amendment.”

Robert Litt, the administration’s top lawyer for the national intelligence community, agreed with that statement. At the same conference, he likened reporting on national security leaks to drunk driving, arguing that we ban the practice despite the fact that there isn’t always a victim.

“Not every drunk driver causes a fatal accident,” he explained, “but we ban drunk driving because it increases the risk of accidents. In the same way, we classify information because of the risk of harm, even if no harm actually can be shown in the end from any particular disclosure.”

BIG BROTHER CENSORING FREE SPEECH ON YOUTUBE

Infowars.com

Alex is joined by video activist Mark Dice to discuss the bombshell news that his private YouTube channel was shut down by Nanny State “Super Flaggers” in response to his anti-establishment truth telling videos showing the continued dumbing down of the public at large and the effort to convince them that rights should be revoked.

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YOUTUBE CENSORS MAJOR ANTI-OBAMA CHANNEL

Mark Dice’s channel shut down days after governments given powers to flag “extremist” content

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com

UPDATE: About 3 hours after this article was posted and following a wave of public pressure, Mark Dice’s channel was restored by YouTube.

A major anti-Obama YouTube channel with 55 million views was shut down yesterday just days after a new policy went into effect handing governments the power to flag “extremist” content on the video sharing website.

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Media commentator and activist Mark Dice, whose channel had 55 million views and 265,000 subscribers, had his account suspended yesterday for what YouTube described as “severe terms of service violations”. The channel was not deleted due to copyright issues.

The most popular videos on Dice’s channel lambasted supporters of Barack Obama. Dice had built up a reputation for his ‘man on the street’ videos which featured him getting Obama supporters to sign petitions that called for a number of insane proposals, like putting gun owners in concentration camps, killing newborn babies, repealing the first amendment to silence criticism of Obama, and granting Obama immunity from all crimes.

After Dice made a video drawing attention to the censorship on his back-up channel, that too was deleted despite having zero strikes against it. The channel was subsequently restored the next day, but Dice’s main channel remains suspended. Attempts to get an explanation for why the channel was deleted have proven fruitless.

Dice’s YouTube channel was also deleted after parent company Google gave some 200 government and police organizations “super flagger” powers, enabling them to flag up to 20 videos for review and possible removal.

YouTube routinely censors content in response to requests from governments and law enforcement authorities.

As we reported in 2011, demands to remove information, including videos containing “government criticism,” are increasing year upon year.

YouTube complies with the majority of the requests, including the removal of videos which merely show political demonstrations.

“YouTube occasionally receives legal complaints from governments around the world to block content on our site. After a review of the legal complaint and the content at issue, YouTube may block specific content in order to comply with local laws in certain countries,” states the company’s disclaimer.

Google owner Eric Schmidt is very close to the Obama White House, which is why many are uncomfortable with him being in charge of YouTube, which has grown into a massive platform for anti-Obama sentiment.

Schmidt has been a major donor to Obama’s two presidential campaigns and served as an informal advisor during Obama’s 2008 White House run. After his success in 2012, Obama even offered Schmidt a major cabinet post.

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MARK DICE IS BACK ON YOUTUBE AFTER ALL VIDEOS DELETED AND CHANNEL SHUT DOWN IN CENSORSHIP ATTEMPT

FREEDOM OF THE PRESS AND THE NATIONAL SURVEILLANCE STATE

Major Media “Rallies” In New York To Urge Press Freedom From Government Spies and Protection for Sources’’

By Danny Schechter | Global Research

The term “spring offensive” may to be out of favor in the media, but more than 50 organizations endorsed a forum this past Friday with some of the media’s best known editorial heavyweights, to discuss the most serious crisis journalistic freedom has faced in decades—a deepening collision over leaks with what has become a national surveillance State.

Sponsored by the Long Island University, and the prestigious Polk Awards, it was held in the bowels of the mainstream media—at the posh Times Center in the New York Times Headquarters. Publisher Arthur Sulzberger was present, as was Jill Abramson, the Executive Editor. She spoke on a panel challenging a securocrat who called on the media to be more “humble.”

She was there primarily to rally support for an earlier speaker, investigative reporter James Risen of the Times, who is refusing to reveal his sources and has now been told by the Courts he has no first amendment right to do so.

His next step could be a jail sentence as several speakers denounced the Obama Administration for being anti-press. It has brought and threatened more prosecutions under the terms of the Espionage Act of 1917 than earlier Administrations.

Also speaking out was Katrina van den Heuvel, editor of the Nation and editor David Remnick of the New Yorker,  as well as Martin Baron, executive editor and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post along with Post national security whiz Bart Gellman.

 There were also outsiders who seem to have now become insiders, Glenn Greenwald skyping in from Brazil, and his colleague Laura Poitras in Berlin.  Edward Snowden’s super articulate legal advisor Ben Wizner, from the ACLU appeared on the first panel.

While the newspapers publish Snowden revelations disseminated by Greenwald and Poitras, it seemed clear they really don’t like working with them, seeing them more as advocates than “legitimate” neutral objective pros like themselves.

Nevertheless, it was a rare united front of media leaders and mainstream reporters along with independents speaking out for the public’s right to know.

Although there was some squeamishness in Establishment circles about the need to “balance” supposedly legitimate national security interests and a freer flow of information—there was a great deal of prattling about “responsibility”— top newspapers are rattling the spooks by their willingness to carry what they spies as stolen or purloined documents.

 The intelligence functionaries spoke in terms of “good guys” versus “bad guys.”

Of course, they assume they are the former. Today, at the NSA and other agencies there seems to be more momentum to  “punish” wrong doers and rule through intimidation. Representing this ‘we are only here to protect you’ approach wasRobert L. Deitz, former general counsel, N.S.A. and senior councillor to the C.I.A. director and Robert S. Litt, General Counsel at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In his speech, Litt expressed regret that the NSA hadn’t been more open in the past.

Yet, when I tried to interview him afterwards, he directed me to his PR flack who showed me how limited he is in speaking to the press—even at a press event. So much for access or an interest in engaging with critics.

He and his colleagues are masters at speaking with forked tongues andrunarounds even as they feign at openness.

The newspaper editors present insisted they were very deliberative, agonizing about what to publish and not publish, always sensitive to the fears of intelligence agencies.

 Representatives of those agencies took a hard line, advocating the prosecution of leakers who break the law.  None of them criticized the top secret courts or repressive legislation.

 When challenged repeatedly for evidence of how leaks harm national security, they became even vaguer. They say disclosures of how the NSA collects information leads to countermeasures by the people they spy on, and,thus, makes it harder for them to what they consider is their job.

They apparently then don’t know what they are missing—like, perhaps, intelligence on what the Russians were planning in Crimea.

 Spying on Americans is, I guess, easier.

At the NSA today, a newly promoted executive comes from their “Media Leaks Task Force”

“Media Leaks” seems to the threat the Agency worries about the most these days—not challenges by foreign governments or terrorists.

In August 2013, it issued a press release saying, “NSA planned to initiate 4,000 re-investigations on civilian employees to reduce the *potential* of an insider compromise of sensitive information and missions.”

 Insider “compromises” (now aided and abetted by major media outlets) have driven the agency crazy even as some of its critics have used that same term to describe NSAexecswho designed their offices as a “command module” to resemble a Star Trek movie or TV Set.

Some of the exchanges at this event about ”Sources and Secrets” were sharp, bordering on real clashes over the future of the press’s right to inform the public about what is happening in the shadows of our democracy.

 You would have thought that these “hot” and timely controversies, and the media issues they raise, would be enough to attract more TV cameras here in the ‘Network City’ that is in New York.

 You might think they would turn out in droves; Ifyou did, you would think wrong.

To my knowledge, the camera from our independent media company, Globalvision, was the ­only one in the house. The event was taped by the New York Times and will be shown on City University TV way down the cable dial—treated as an academic event, hardly a big draw on the media spectrum.

You would have also thought that panels would lead to some collective action, not just a ventilation of grievances, but no plan or campaign was put forth, probably because of the competitive nature of media enterprises that are always seeking to one-up each other.  They are better at competition than collaboration.

Many key players are not comfortable, as the editor of the Washington Post acknowledged, being “adversarial,”  even as manyalso admitted that had not been aggressive enough in the past in challenging over classification and sececy—often cooperating or being complicit with government requests and steering.

 There were calls for more pro-active reporting while journalists pointed out that government officials do far more leaking than dissidents like Snowden or Chelsea Manning.

 The March 21 date of the event did have some resonance in media history.

•In the Times on Friday was a page one story on other media priorities— on the CEO of Time Warner Cable who after a few months in the job, sold his own company to Comcast, and is now line to receive an $80 million golden handshake after just six weeks on the job.

•In l992 on that day, Johnny Carson hosted his final episode after 30 seasons.

 •In 2011, Radio broadcaster Harold Camping predicted that the end of the world would occur on March 21, a prophecy that would, happily, fizzle.  (If it he was right, this event would not have occurred!  I am beginning to sound like those “experts” on CNN that suggested an extra terrestrial prospect for that disappearing Malaysian plane.)

 This media event about the media is about the further erosion,  if not the end, of a free press as we have known it, but the press couldn’t bother to cover it. They had other priorities like Kim Kadashian’s first presence on the cover of Vogue.

The only really newsworthy disclosure was Senator Chuck Schumer’s prediction that a Shield law defending reporters has White House and bi-partisan backing and may pass this year.

 That will be seen as a great victory for journalists who want to do their jobs without being investigated, interrogated for incarcerated, even though most Courts are currently eroding press rights or privileges as unconstitutional.

Before we break out the bubbly and cheer the passage of a law that has taken so long to pass, bear in mind that it has a huge loophole big enough to drive an NSA big-data storage warehouse through—the so-called “National Security exemption” that insures,at a minimum, that conferences like this will be needed for years to come.

 Encryption will not save us from that.

SCHUMER: SENATE HAS VOTES FOR MEDIA RULES…PROTECTIONS ONLY FOR ‘COVERED JOURNALISTS’

By DONNA CASSATA
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A supporter of a bill to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal confidential sources said Friday the measure has the backing of the Obama administration and the support of enough senators to move ahead this year.

Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, spoke optimistically about prospects for the measure, identifying five Republicans who would join with Democrats and independents on a bill that he said would address a constitutional oversight.

While the first amendment protects freedom of the press, “there is no first amendment right for gathering information,” Schumer said at The New York Times’ Sources and Secrets Conference on the press, government and national security.

The bill was revived last year after the disclosure that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed almost two months’ worth of telephone records for 21 phone lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press and secretly used a search warrant to obtain some emails of a Fox News journalist.

The Justice Department took the actions in looking into leaks of classified information to the news organizations. The AP received no advance warning of the subpoena.

Schumer discussed the bill’s provisions and how, if it became law, it might affect journalist Glenn Greenwald, who reported on National Security Agency’s secret surveillance based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

“It’s probably not enough protections to (cover) him, but it’s better than current law,” Schumer said.

The bill’s protections would apply to a “covered journalist,” defined as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information. The individual would have to have been employed for one year within the last 20 or three months within the last five years.

It would apply to student journalists or someone with a considerable amount of freelance work in the last five years. A federal judge also would have the discretion to declare an individual a “covered journalist” who would be granted the privileges of the law.

The bill also says that information is only privileged if it is disseminated by a news medium, described as “newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, news agency, news website, mobile application or other news or information service (whether distributed digitally or otherwise); news program, magazine or other periodical, whether in print, electronic or other format; or thorough television or radio broadcast … or motion picture for public showing.”

While the definition covers traditional and online media, it draws the line at posts on Twitter, blogs or other social media websites by non-journalists.

The overall bill would protect reporters and news media organizations from being required to reveal the identities of confidential sources, but it does not grant an absolute privilege to journalists.

The bill makes clear that before the government asks a news organization to divulge sources, it first must go to a judge, who would supervise any subpoenas or court orders for information. Such orders would be limited, if possible, “in purpose, subject matter and period of time covered so as to avoid compelling disclosure of peripheral, nonessential or speculative information.”

Schumer was asked how the bill would affect James Risen, a Pulitzer prize-winning reporter who is battling government efforts to force him to testify in the trial of a CIA official occused of leaking information to him.

“Under our bill, Risen would have his day in court,” Schumer said.

The senator wasn’t certain about the impact on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying he didn’t know how Assange makes his money under the bill’s definition of a “covered journalist.”

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed the bill last September on a 13-5 vote. Schumer said the measure has the support of Republican Sens. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Roy Blunt of Missouri and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. He also noted the backing of Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch in the committee.

“I think we’re going to get the bill on the floor of the Senate and pass it,” said Schumer, who explained that other Republicans have concerns due to national security.

Votes are not expected until after April, however.

In the AP story that triggered one of the leak probes, the news organization reported that U.S. intelligence had learned that al-Qaida’s Yemen branch hoped to launch a spectacular attack using a new, nearly undetectable bomb aboard a U.S.-bound airliner around the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death.

In the Fox News story, reporter James Rosen reported that U.S. intelligence officials had warned Obama and senior U.S. officials that North Korea would respond to a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning nuclear tests with another nuclear test.

Last month, the Justice Department announced it was revising its rules for obtaining records from the news media in leak investigations, promising that in most instances, the government will notify news organizations beforehand of its intention to do so.

The revised procedures are designed to give news organizations an opportunity to challenge any subpoenas or search warrants in federal court.

THE DEFINITION OF CENSORSHIP: UNIVERSITY FINES STUDENTS $100 FOR TALKING TO REPORTERS

CALPOLY

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By Robby Soave | The Daily Caller

At least two student-candidates for student government at California Polytechnic State University were fined $100 each for talking to reporters about their respective campaigns, violating a curiously draconian election code.

The election code of Cal Poly’s student government, Associated Students, Inc., prohibits candidates from actively campaigning until within 10 days of the election. The code defines active campaigning as “a non-verbal public display or distribution of specific information (physical or electronic) about any ASI candidate.”

This even includes newspaper articles written about the candidates, the ASI election committee determined.

Such an article appeared in the Mustang News, the university’s student newspaper. Several students were publicly identified as candidates for office and provided quotes for the article–triggering the $100 fines.

The fines provoked quite an outcry.

“If this sounds completely stupid to you, join the crowd,” wrote Joe Tarica, a local columnist.

The stupidity did not stop there, however. The fines appear to trigger whenever any publication mentions the candidates in any capacity–even without their permission–such that news stories about the fining of the candidates trigger more fines, and so on.

J.J. Jenkins, editor-in-chief of the Mustang News, gave an unbelievable account of the cyclical fining to The College Fix:

I’m communicating non-verbally now. If I were to write the names of the four candidates for ASI President, it would put them in violation of the election code and a fine could be levied. In fact, if you were to write a comment or tweet naming a student in connection with “ASI presidential candidate,” you too could open them up to a violation. …

We ran a story about those fines Tuesday, and ASI declared the candidates to be in violation of the code again. We printed a story about the second violation because it was newsworthy — predictably resulting in a third violation.

It’s a vicious cycle. We get it, and so does ASI. But it highlights an infringement on the candidates’ right to free speech, the right to speak with a newspaper and have their words distributed to a wider audience.

The result is a chilling effect on students’ speech.

“Consequently, it has put us in the unenviable position of reporting news knowing it could result in fines to innocent candidates,” wrote Jenkins. “But if we tailor our news coverage to what ASI deems appropriate, we aren’t doing our job as independent investigators of facts on this campus.”

Thanks to the public outcry, ASI has suspended the fines while it confers with university legal counsel regarding whether the election code is actually enforceable as written.

The university did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether it believes its students’ free speech rights are being violated.

BLOOMBERG MOVES TO BAN PRO-GUN SPEECH ON FACEBOOK

Facebook now working with former N.Y. mayor to censor support for the Second Amendment

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Kit Daniels
Infowars.com

Facebook is currently working with two anti-gun groups to further restrict firearm discussions on its various pages in a move that will likely lead to the outright censorship of gun topics throughout the social media site.

Facebook will accelerate its demise by flirting with gun grabbers. Credit: Thos003 / Flickr

Facebook will accelerate its demise by flirting with gun grabbers. Credit: Thos003 / Flickr

After Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action spent the past month pressuring Facebook to censor gun-themed fan pages, the company finally agreed to reconsider its current policies, according to the anti-gun publication Venture Beat.

An insider told the publication that the ongoing talks between the gun control groups and Facebook were “progressing” and that they have already made agreements yet to be disclosed.

Moms Demand Action, which publicly partnered with MAIG in December, began to pressure Facebook last month to change its stance on firearms.

The anti-gun group even produced a video meant to “shame” Facebook for allowing its members to post pictures of and privately sell guns, despite the fact that many such transactions are perfectly legal in the vast majority of states.

But the group’s attack on gun rights won’t stop there.

Last month, a New York mayor exposed that the true goal of these organizations is a nationwide gun ban.

“It did not take long to realize that MAIG’s agenda was much more than ridding felons of illegal guns,” Poughkeepsie, N.Y. Mayor John C. Tkazyik wrote. “Under the guise of helping mayors facing a crime and drug epidemic, MAIG intended to promote confiscation of guns from law-abiding citizens.”

Likewise, the pressure from these groups to force Facebook to censor legal gun sales will only lead to an outright ban on firearm discussions on the social media site.

And unfortunately, Facebook already has a long history of censoring pro-liberty statements and banning users who promote basic human freedoms.

Last year, Facebook deactivated the Facebook page of a Pennsylvania gun store after the store’s owner announced his intent to raffle off an AR-15.

Additionally, in late 2012, Facebook suspended at least 20 accounts operated by individuals in alternative media during a 24 hour period, claiming that they violated “Facebook policies.”

The company also banned an image which contained a quote by Mahatma Gandhi explaining how the British disarmed the population during their rule in India.

And the social media giant warned Infowars’ own Darrin McBreen not to voice his political opinion in 2011 and even deleted the official Alex Jones page over an image of the Gadsden flag in 2010.

These aren’t isolated incidents; Facebook routinely censors political posts by claiming that they violated its “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”

But by also pushing a gun control agenda, Facebook will only accelerate its current decline as millions of gun owners abandon the social media site.

U.S. JUSTICE DEPARTMENT PROTOCOLS INCLUDE SWEEPING ATTACKS ON PRESS FREEDOM

By Eric London

In an order published by Attorney General Eric Holder on February 27, the Obama administration granted itself unprecedented powers to spy on and prosecute journalists. The new policy announcement directly violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which provides that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom speech, or of the press…”

Last year, the administration announced it was preparing a series of “reforms” after it was caught wiretapping the phone lines of journalists with the Associated Press. In what has become the standard practice of the administration, however, the banner of “reform” has been used to obscure the establishment of the legal foundations for a police state.

Although the administration presents the new protocols as protective of democratic rights, the content of the order represents a significant escalation in the attack on freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

As an initial matter, the order is an assertion by the executive branch that it has the power to regulate itself on pressing constitutional matters. Under the separation of powers doctrine, however, the U.S. Constitution proscribes precisely such conduct. If the executive branch has the right to determine for itself the constitutionality of its own actions, then presumably the judicial branch exists simply to rubber stamp the executive’s decisions. This implies that there are no limits to efforts by the executive to expand its powers.

The regulations announced by the administration in themselves amount to an assertion of massive repressive powers. Under the new rules, the power of the attorney general to use “certain law enforcement tools, including subpoenas, court orders…and search warrants to seek information from, or records of, non-consenting members of the news media” is greatly expanded.

Among the protocols that ostensibly limit the power of the executive branch to rummage through journalists’ papers and documents, one regulation stands out. The Department of Justice order standardizes a process of government intimidation through which journalists will be given the opportunity to “voluntarily” hand over their communications and notes through what the Department of Justice calls “negotiations.” The order sets forth that the government will be allowed to exercise a subpoena or search warrant only after negotiations have taken place.

The imposition of such a “negotiation” requirement has chilling implications for freedom of the press. Under this requirement, officials from the executive branch will visit journalists in their homes and workplaces and bully them into handing over communications and work product under threat of prosecution and subpoena.

Aside from being forced to break source confidentiality, members of the “fourth estate” will now be obliged to carry out their investigations under the constant threat of a phone call or visit from government “negotiators.” Journalists will operate under a climate of fear in which only the most courageous will consider making connections with whistleblowers, and only the boldest will work to expose government lies and crimes.

For the Obama administration, these are not unintended consequences. To the contrary, the administration sees quashing all exposures of government illegality—such as the revelations of massive government spying by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden—as a central goal. Fearful of the impact the leaks by Julian Assange, Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden have had on the political consciousness of the population, the administration hopes that the imposition of a “negotiation” requirement will force journalists to think twice about publishing information that runs counter to the interests of the state.

Even the supposed restriction on government surveillance and persecution of reporters in the form of the negotiation requirement can be easily evaded. The rule that a negotiation must occur between the government and a journalist before a subpoena or warrant is issued can be overridden if “the Attorney General determines that, for compelling reasons, such negotiations would pose a clear and substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation, risk grave harm to national security, or present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily harm.” This is a loophole wide enough to drive the proverbial truck through.

The order also carves out a rule of general exception in cases related to “national security.” For example, any requirement that the government give notice to journalists before it violates their First and Fourth Amendment (banning unreasonable searches and seizures) rights does not apply where the journalist “is or is reasonably likely to be…committing or attempting to commit a crime of terrorism,” or is “aiding, abetting, or conspiring in illegal activity” related to “terrorism.”

It should be noted that the criterion defined by the phrase “reasonably likely” is extremely loose, giving the government license to spy far beyond the scope of the “probable cause” standard spelled out in the Fourth Amendment. The decision to apply this exception, moreover, will be made unilaterally by the executive branch, without any review or sanction from a court of law.

This exception is clearly intended to apply to journalists such as Assange and Glenn Greenwald, who work with (“aid and abet”) whistleblowers like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden (“criminals” under the Espionage Act of 1917). In effect, this means that any journalist who helps publish leaked material is engaging in activity that is related to a criminal investigation and therefore forfeits both his or her First Amendment and Fourth Amendment rights.

The order also includes the “restriction” that the attorney general himself expressly authorize subpoenas, warrant applications and court-ordered seizures. But this is not a genuine limitation. To the contrary, it is an expansion of the powers of the chief federal law enforcement official.

Even this requirement is watered down by exceptions. Lower-ranking officials in the Department of Justice will be able to issue subpoenas to journalists and news organizations for “information unrelated to ordinary newsgathering activities,” “for information or records relating to personnel not involved in ordinary newsgathering activities,” and “for information related to public comments, messages, or postings by readers, viewers, customers, or subscribers.”

In other words, journalists can be brought before a court under oath to testify on the content of forum posts made by readers.

Perhaps the broadest language in the order comes in the section pertaining to the role of the intelligence apparatus in directing the Department of Justice to pursue certain journalists. The attorney general may subpoena members of the news media in “investigations of unauthorized disclosures of national defense information or of classified information, where the Director of National Intelligence, after consultation with the relevant Department or agency head(s), certifies to the Attorney General the significance of the harm raised by the unauthorized disclosure and that the information disclosed was properly classified and reaffirms the intelligence community’s continued support for the investigation and prosecution.”

In such circumstances, the government need not show probable cause in order to obtain the content of the private communication of a journalist. It need only offer “specific and articulable facts showing that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the contents of a wire or electronic communication, or the records or other information sought, are relevant and material to an ongoing criminal investigation.”

These unprecedented attacks on press freedom are being carried out by the Obama administration on the basis of the pseudo-legal argument that democratic rights must be “balanced” against national security needs.

The only legal justification provided by the administration throughout the entire order is the assertion that the government must “strike the proper balance among several vital interests: (1) protecting national security, (2) ensuring public safety, (3) promoting effective law enforcement and the fair administration of justice, and (4) safeguarding the essential role of the free press…”

Such a balancing test is unconstitutional on its face. There is no asterisk at the conclusion of the Bill of Rights—no caveat that “some restrictions may apply.” To the contrary, the basic democratic rights of the population were declared “inalienable” by the signers of the Declaration of Independence. But these rights find no defenders within the contemporary political and media establishment.

ANOTHER NAIL IN COFFIN OF 1ST AMENDMENT

Joseph Farah predicts, ‘Soon the land of the free will no longer be’

by Joseph Farah | World Net Daily

The First Amendment is under siege.

  • The Federal Communications Commission has aggressively sought to undermine freedom of the press for decades with efforts to restore the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” which allowed government agents to decide whether broadcasters were being “fair” by the standards of community activists and government bureaucrats. Then came the browbeating by government using a standard of diversity of ownership. And, most recently, the FCC was preparing to place agents in newsrooms to watch journalists prepare news stories.
  • The Internal Revenue Service was used to target conservative and tea-party groups for special scrutiny. The IRS contracts out work to the Urban Institute, a left-wing activist group, which reviews filings by many groups seeking nonprofit status.
  • So-called “hate speech” laws actually make it unlawful to express politically incorrect ideas. So-called “hate crimes” laws provide stiffer penalties on the basis of the perceived politically incorrect motives behind the crimes.
  • Just this week a U.S. court ordered Google to pull down an anti-Islamic YouTube video because of its content.

You get the picture.

So the state legislature of Arizona passed a bill to try to preserve a little piece of the First Amendment – its protections of religious people and businesses who prefer not to be compelled to, say, serve as a photographer or make a cake for a same-sex wedding. (That’s right, some have been hit with big fines, been forced out of business and even threatened with jail for following the dictates of their moral conscience.)

The bill got to Gov. Jan Brewer.

The homosexualists, who, whether they admit or not, are part of a religious cult themselves, went to work. Their friends in the media joined in the chorus, proclaiming the law would create Jim Crow-style situations in which a class of people would be denied service at lunch counters. And Jan Brewer vetoed the bill.

“To the supporters of the legislation, I want you to know that I understand that long-held norms about marriage and family are being challenged as never before. Our society is undergoing many dramatic changes,” she said. “However, I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve. It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine and no one would ever want. Religious liberty is a core American and Arizona value, so is non-discrimination.”

Actually, “discrimination” is exercised every day by every American.

And it’s “discrimination” to compel people to do things that violate their religious beliefs.

The kind of “discrimination” we don’t like is when people are unfairly treated on the basis of their race, ethnicity or religion. That’s what this bill sought to do.

But is it wrong to discriminate against people on the basis of their behavior?

Let’s say a male job applicant wearing a dress comes for an interview at your office. Should you be forced to weigh his credentials and experience on an equal basis with others who are dressed more conventionally?

I don’t think so.

Let’s say you run Chick-fil-A or Hobby Lobby or WND and the government mandates you to provide health insurance to pay for abortions. Is that not a violation of your religious beliefs?

I think so.

On almost a daily basis now we’re seeing one more nail in the coffin of the First Amendment.

Soon the land of the free will no longer be.

It’s time for a free and open national dialogue on these issues without the hysterics.

This week I heard CNN’s Wolf Blitzer compare the Arizona bill to the law passed in Uganda that threatens homosexuals with jail time and worse.

For heaven’s sake, if you want a wedding cake with two men on the top layer, hire a baker who thinks it’s cute. Don’t pick the one with the fish on the window. And don’t kill the First Amendment over it.

Can it get any simpler than that?

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HARVARD STUDENT: ABOLISH FREE SPEECH

Woman claims First Amendment threatens liberalism

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by Joe Kovacs | World Net Daily

A student writer at Harvard University is raising eyebrows after publishing her belief that free speech on campus should be abolished and professors with opposing views be fired.

Sandra Korn, a senior who writes a column for the Harvard Crimson newspaper, thinks radical leftism is the only permissible political philosophy, and the First Amendment only hinders colleges from brainwashing students with her viewpoint.

“Let’s give up on academic freedom in favor of justice,” states the subtitle of her Feb. 18 column, in which she insists Harvard stop guaranteeing students and professors the right to hold controversial views and conduct research putting liberalism in a negative light.

“If our university community opposes racism, sexism, and heterosexism, why should we put up with research that counters our goals?” Korn asks.

“It is tempting to decry frustrating restrictions on academic research as violations of academic freedom. Yet I would encourage student and worker organizers to instead use a framework of justice. After all, if we give up our obsessive reliance on the doctrine of academic freedom, we can consider more thoughtfully what is just.”

Korn’s view grabbed the attention of the nation’s top conservative voice, Rush Limbaugh.

“This is not unique. This is not satire. This is not parody,” Limbaugh said on his nationally broadcast radio program Tuesday. “This woman, Sandra Korn, is real, and she’s serious that free speech needs to be abridged because it is threatening liberalism. It means that liberalism cannot hold up to scrutiny. It cannot withstand a challenge.  If liberalism were infallible, if liberalism were so powerful and automatic, they would welcome challenges to it – and they would welcome the attempt to persuade and to convert. But instead they’re threatened by it.”

When asked of he thought her belief was going to become a movement, Limbaugh indicated it already was one.

“This is what the left is,” he explained. “Why do you think they want to get rid of this program? Why do you think they want to get rid of Fox News? Why do they want to silence criticism? What is Obama’s modus operandi? Eliminate the opposition. This is already a movement!”

“This woman has just written a column about it at Harvard with what appears to be an extreme view of eliminating the First Amendment as a way of silencing opposition. But she’s very honest. The First Amendment, free speech, ‘threatens liberalism,’ meaning liberalism cannot thrive in an open society. Liberalism is totalitarianism. Liberalism is statism. It is authoritarianism. It is all of the horrible Isms, and it cannot thrive when there is open debate. It cannot survive challenges.”

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FLASHBACK: GEORGETOWN LAW PROFESSOR SAYS, ‘LET’S GIVE UP ON THE CONSTITUTION’ ON CBS

January 28, 2013

The following op-ed run on CBS’s 60 Minutes takes a backwards interpretation of the Constitution, perverting the document that enshrines and protects our civil rights by arguing that it allows people to control their own lives.

Breitbart.com has posted yet another scholar who advocates destroying a centuries-long battle to uphold protections for the individual and discourage despots. Louis Michael Seidman, a law professor from Georgetown University, shamelessly calls for tearing off the chains on government, joining a chorus of individuals ready to undo the country’s foundations in the wake of tragedy.

Shockingly, he advocates throwing the baby out with the bathwater all while trying to pacify the audience into believing that “giving up on the Constitution” is NOT a radical thing. Seidman argues that if President Obama wasn’t born in the country, it shouldn’t matter, and further claims that if people want to debate, or adopt, gun control, it should be within their rights to do so.

And yet Seidman has shown his disdain for individual rights by advocating the removal of those protections over our nation.

He is clearly not interested in weighing responsible revisions to create better government, but to disarm critics clinging to the Constitution, and that clear, pesky “shall not infringe” clause under the 2nd Amendment in the Bill of Rights. Seidman states, in part, “Talking about gun control in terms of constitutional obligation needlessly raises the temperature of political discussion.” The danger of taking his position in the name of keeping a cool demeanor holds an obvious danger.

Seidman’s real agenda is revealed by regurgitated talking points that have showed up over the years in the post-9/11 world to justify eviscerating protections for individuals from government. By de-legitimizing the argument to hold to the Constitution, this law professor is ushering in arbitrary law and a public opinion that could shift with the wind rather than uphold a principle, a key buffer set up by imperfect founders to try to stave off tyranny through a separation of power.

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TRANSCRIPT FROM GEORGETOWN LAW PROFESSOR LOUIS MICHAEL SEIDMAN

I’ve got a simple idea: Let’s give up on the Constitution. I know, it sounds radical, but it’s really not. Constitutional disobedience is as American as apple pie. For example, most of our greatest Presidents — Jefferson, Lincoln, Wilson, and both Roosevelts — had doubts about the Constitution, and many of them disobeyed it when it got in their way.

To be clear, I don’t think we should give up on everything in the Constitution. The Constitution has many important and inspiring provisions, but we should obey these because they are important and inspiring, not because a bunch of people who are now long-dead favored them two centuries ago. Unfortunately, the Constitution also contains some provisions that are not so inspiring. For example, one allows a presidential candidate who is rejected by a majority of the American people to assume office. Suppose that Barack Obama really wasn’t a natural-born citizen. So what? Constitutional obedience has a pernicious impact on our political culture. Take the recent debate about gun control. None of my friends can believe it, but I happen to be skeptical of most forms of gun control. I understand, though, that’s not everyone’s view, and I’m eager to talk with people who disagree.

But what happens when the issue gets Constitutional-ized? Then we turn the question over to lawyers, and lawyers do with it what lawyers do. So instead of talking about whether gun control makes sense in our country, we talk about what people thought of it two centuries ago. Worse yet, talking about gun control in terms of constitutional obligation needlessly raises the temperature of political discussion. Instead of a question on policy, about which reasonable people can disagree, it becomes a test of one’s commitment to our foundational document and, so, to America itself.

This is our country. We live in it, and we have a right to the kind of country we want. We would not allow the French or the United Nations to rule us, and neither should we allow people who died over two centuries ago and knew nothing of our country as it exists today. If we are to take back our own country, we have to start making decisions for ourselves, and stop deferring to an ancient and outdated document.

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LET’S GIVE UP ON THE CONSTITUTION

By LOUIS MICHAEL SEIDMAN | The New York Times

Washington

AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

Consider, for example, the assertion by the Senate minority leader last week that the House could not take up a plan by Senate Democrats to extend tax cuts on households making $250,000 or less because the Constitution requires that revenue measures originate in the lower chamber. Why should anyone care? Why should a lame-duck House, 27 members of which were defeated for re-election, have a stranglehold on our economy? Why does a grotesquely malapportioned Senate get to decide the nation’s fate?

Our obsession with the Constitution has saddled us with a dysfunctional political system, kept us from debating the merits of divisive issues and inflamed our public discourse. Instead of arguing about what is to be done, we argue about what James Madison might have wanted done 225 years ago.

As someone who has taught constitutional law for almost 40 years, I am ashamed it took me so long to see how bizarre all this is. Imagine that after careful study a government official — say, the president or one of the party leaders in Congress — reaches a considered judgment that a particular course of action is best for the country. Suddenly, someone bursts into the room with new information: a group of white propertied men who have been dead for two centuries, knew nothing of our present situation, acted illegally under existing law and thought it was fine to own slaves might have disagreed with this course of action. Is it even remotely rational that the official should change his or her mind because of this divination?

Constitutional disobedience may seem radical, but it is as old as the Republic. In fact, the Constitution itself was born of constitutional disobedience. When George Washington and the other framers went to Philadelphia in 1787, they were instructed to suggest amendments to the Articles of Confederation, which would have had to be ratified by the legislatures of all 13 states. Instead, in violation of their mandate, they abandoned the Articles, wrote a new Constitution and provided that it would take effect after ratification by only nine states, and by conventions in those states rather than the state legislatures.

No sooner was the Constitution in place than our leaders began ignoring it. John Adams supported the Alien and Sedition Acts, which violated the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech. Thomas Jefferson thought every constitution should expire after a single generation. He believed the most consequential act of his presidency — the purchase of the Louisiana Territory — exceeded his constitutional powers.

Before the Civil War, abolitionists like Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison conceded that the Constitution protected slavery, but denounced it as a pact with the devil that should be ignored. When Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation — 150 years ago tomorrow — he justified it as a military necessity under his power as commander in chief. Eventually, though, he embraced the freeing of slaves as a central war aim, though nearly everyone conceded that the federal government lacked the constitutional power to disrupt slavery where it already existed. Moreover, when the law finally caught up with the facts on the ground through passage of the 13th Amendment, ratification was achieved in a manner at odds with constitutional requirements. (The Southern states were denied representation in Congress on the theory that they had left the Union, yet their reconstructed legislatures later provided the crucial votes to ratify the amendment.)

In his Constitution Day speech in 1937, Franklin D. Roosevelt professed devotion to the document, but as a statement of aspirations rather than obligations. This reading no doubt contributed to his willingness to extend federal power beyond anything the framers imagined, and to threaten the Supreme Court when it stood in the way of his New Deal legislation. In 1954, when the court decided Brown v. Board of Education, Justice Robert H. Jackson said he was voting for it as a moral and political necessity although he thought it had no basis in the Constitution. The list goes on and on.

The fact that dissenting justices regularly, publicly and vociferously assert that their colleagues have ignored the Constitution — in landmark cases from Miranda v. Arizona to Roe v. Wade to Romer v. Evans to Bush v. Gore — should give us pause. The two main rival interpretive methods, “originalism” (divining the framers’ intent) and “living constitutionalism” (reinterpreting the text in light of modern demands), cannot be reconciled. Some decisions have been grounded in one school of thought, and some in the other. Whichever your philosophy, many of the results — by definition — must be wrong.

IN the face of this long history of disobedience, it is hard to take seriously the claim by the Constitution’s defenders that we would be reduced to a Hobbesian state of nature if we asserted our freedom from this ancient text. Our sometimes flagrant disregard of the Constitution has not produced chaos or totalitarianism; on the contrary, it has helped us to grow and prosper.

This is not to say that we should disobey all constitutional commands. Freedom of speech and religion, equal protection of the laws and protections against governmental deprivation of life, liberty or property are important, whether or not they are in the Constitution. We should continue to follow those requirements out of respect, not obligation.

Nor should we have a debate about, for instance, how long the president’s term should last or whether Congress should consist of two houses. Some matters are better left settled, even if not in exactly the way we favor. Nor, finally, should we have an all-powerful president free to do whatever he wants. Even without constitutional fealty, the president would still be checked by Congress and by the states. There is even something to be said for an elite body like the Supreme Court with the power to impose its views of political morality on the country.

What would change is not the existence of these institutions, but the basis on which they claim legitimacy. The president would have to justify military action against Iran solely on the merits, without shutting down the debate with a claim of unchallengeable constitutional power as commander in chief. Congress might well retain the power of the purse, but this power would have to be defended on contemporary policy grounds, not abstruse constitutional doctrine. The Supreme Court could stop pretending that its decisions protecting same-sex intimacy or limiting affirmative action were rooted in constitutional text.

The deep-seated fear that such disobedience would unravel our social fabric is mere superstition. As we have seen, the country has successfully survived numerous examples of constitutional infidelity. And as we see now, the failure of the Congress and the White House to agree has already destabilized the country. Countries like Britain and New Zealand have systems of parliamentary supremacy and no written constitution, but are held together by longstanding traditions, accepted modes of procedure and engaged citizens. We, too, could draw on these resources.

What has preserved our political stability is not a poetic piece of parchment, but entrenched institutions and habits of thought and, most important, the sense that we are one nation and must work out our differences. No one can predict in detail what our system of government would look like if we freed ourselves from the shackles of constitutional obligation, and I harbor no illusions that any of this will happen soon. But even if we can’t kick our constitutional-law addiction, we can soften the habit.

If we acknowledged what should be obvious — that much constitutional language is broad enough to encompass an almost infinitely wide range of positions — we might have a very different attitude about the obligation to obey. It would become apparent that people who disagree with us about the Constitution are not violating a sacred text or our core commitments. Instead, we are all invoking a common vocabulary to express aspirations that, at the broadest level, everyone can embrace. Of course, that does not mean that people agree at the ground level. If we are not to abandon constitutionalism entirely, then we might at least understand it as a place for discussion, a demand that we make a good-faith effort to understand the views of others, rather than as a tool to force others to give up their moral and political judgments.

If even this change is impossible, perhaps the dream of a country ruled by “We the people” is impossibly utopian. If so, we have to give up on the claim that we are a self-governing people who can settle our disagreements through mature and tolerant debate. But before abandoning our heritage of self-government, we ought to try extricating ourselves from constitutional bondage so that we can give real freedom a chance.

Louis Michael Seidman, a professor of constitutional law at Georgetown University, is the author of the forthcoming book “On Constitutional Disobedience.”

NANCY PELOSI’S ATTACK ON THE FIRST AMENDMENT

Nancy Pelosi's Attack on the First Amendment

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Written by  Thomas R. Eddlem | The New American

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (shown, D-Calif.) and Maryland Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) signed on to the national leftist movement to amend the U.S. Constitution to repeal the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, a move that puts national Democratic Party leadership in favor of repealing the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The two wrote in an op-ed for the Washington Post:

Citizens United shook the foundation of our democracy: the principle that, in the United States of America, it is the voices of the people, not the bank accounts of the privileged few, that determine the outcome of our elections and the policies of our government. Our Founders established a government of the many, not a government of the money.

That last part of the February 4 column was a clever line but misleading in several ways. It incorrectly assumes that freedom of the press never had anything to do with having the money to buy and own a press and that it never had anything to do with the money to buy the paper and ink to print. Pelosi and Sarbanes likewise falsely assume that before Citizens United corporations didn’t have any political speech, as if media corporations never engage in political speech. (Indeed, their column was a political opinion in a corporate media organ.) The Citizens United decision actually democratized political speech by allowing more than just media corporations to engage in political speech.

Pelosi’s attack against a “government of the money” rather than a “government of the many” also assumes that money has played a dominant role in deciding elections in the wake of Citizens United. But the reality is that the very groups Pelosi and Sarbanes referred to in their op-ed — organizations such as Karl Rove’s American Crossroads and other organizations that were given tens of millions by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — performed abysmally in 2012. Karl Rove’s American Crossroads lost every race in which the organization committed more than $500,000, with the exception of a Nebraska race, the reddest of red states where every other state-wide elected official is a Republican.

Likewise, Sheldon Adelson committed tens of millions to the nomination of Newt Gingrich in the Republican presidential primaries. After Gingrich lost anyway, Adelson committed more tens of millions toward Mitt Romney’s losing race against President Obama. By way of contrast, new organizations such as the libertarian-oriented Liberty-For-All SuperPAC won nearly all of the races in which they committed their less than $2 million in 2012. Clearly, money does not overcome a weak candidate with a poor message.

But it’s this new type of political speech that has leftists screaming for censorship. It makes a kind of perverse sense from the Democratic Party perspective to try to shut off independent expenditures because the Left also overwhelmingly controls direct contributions to political campaigns and the mass media. Consider that the six largest media companies are overwhelmingly Democratic-oriented in political donations (even NewsCorp’s Fox Network):

• Time-Warner — Individual political donations favor Democrats more than 20-1

• Disney/ABC — Individual political donations favor Democrats more than 40-1

• CBS Corporation — Individual political donations favor Democrats 100 percent (no Republican donations)

• NewsCorp/Fox — Individual political donations favor Democrats 3-1

• Comcast/NBC Universal — Individual political donations favor Democrats slightly ($204,000-$151,000)

• National Amusements/Viacom — Individual political donations favor Democrats 13-1

• Total average individual political donations favor Democrats more than 10-1.

Additionally, direct donors to individual campaign committees and leadership PACs are overwhelmingly dominated by leftist organizations such as unions, according to OpenSecrets.org.

In short, the Democratic Left is trying to censor what remains of a proportionately small effort by conservatives, Republicans, libertarians, and constitutionalists in order to restore their near-monopoly on political information.

Even this overwhelming bias in mass media information toward the Left is not enough for the Obama administration, whose Federal Communications Commission has commissioned a “Study of Critical Information Needs (CINs)” to monitor American newsrooms for proper attention to what Washington thinks are the correct stories, the so-called “critical information needs,” that mass media should be covering.

The core goal of the media market census is to determine whether and how FCC-regulated and related media construct news and public affairs to provide for CINs across different communities. This includes a thorough study of local media ecologies, with special emphasis on performance and access/barriers to CINs.

The goal of the proposed study was to “establish a dialogue between the findings of the content analysis of media sources and what is actually reported by news providers.” The proposal also explained:

The purpose of these interviews is to ascertain the process by which stories are selected, station priorities (for content, production quality, and populations served), perceived station bias, perceived percent of news dedicated to each of the eight CINs, and perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.

The CIN study went forward, and FCC member Ajit Pai warned in a February 10 Wall Street Journal column that the president’s bureaucrats have “plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their ‘news philosophy’ and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.” Pai warned that while the study claimed to be informational only, he notes that “the demise of the Fairness Doctrine has not deterred proponents of newsroom policing, and the CIN study is a first step down the same dangerous path.”

In this blatant censorship effort, the Left is seeking to enact a new Sedition Act, like the one Congress passed in 1798 to criminalize criticism of the president. They want the media policed by an executive branch empowered to audit, fine, and imprison any press organ that dares to criticize it. They want just what Congressman Albert Gallatin criticized back in 1798:

Do they not avow that the true object of the law is to enable one party to oppress the other; that they mean to have the power to punish printers who may publish against them, whilst their opponents will remain alone, and without redress, exposed to the abuse of Ministerial prints? Is it not their object to frighten and suppress all presses which they consider as contrary to their views; to prevent a free circulation of opinion; to suffer the people at large to hear only partial accounts, and but one side of the question; to delude and deceive them by partial information, and, through those means, to perpetuate themselves in power?

The Pelosi/Sarbanes op-ed also opens the possibility that the “Move to Amend” leftists and their allies will seek this amendment by constitutional convention, a convention where delegates could also consider repeal of the Second Amendment, as well as the First. There are many leftist sources that have called for the repeal of the Second Amendment, and some that have campaigned for doing so through a constitutional convention.

Pelosi and Sarbanes also claimed that in addition to regulating the amount of political speech that can be published and aired, they also demand disclosure of the finances behind the organizations engaging in the political speech. “We must disclose the sources of the money in our campaigns, amend the Constitution to reverse the grievous error of the Citizens United decision, reform our broken campaign finance system and empower citizens everywhere to exercise their right to vote.”

Of course, if all political speech required the disclosure of donors, the Pelosi position would essentially require that donors to the NAACP disclose their donor database — including amounts, names, addresses and employers — to every member of the Ku Klux Klan. It’s balderdash to claim that disclosure does not chill free speech. Anonymous political communication is as American as the Federalist Papers, which were anonymous political communications. Americans would not have a nation without Samuel Adams’ ability to write and publicize political opinions anonymously as “Vindex,” and other pen-names. Americans would not have their current Constitution without the ability of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay to write the Federalist Papers anonymously as “Publius.” And even after adoption of the First Amendment, Founding Fathers such as Alexander Hamilton and James Madison continued to write political letters anonymously under pen names such as Helvidius, Americanus and Pacificus.

JUSTICE GROUP WARNS OF OBAMA PLAN TO PUT GOVERNMENT MONITORS IN NEWSROOMS

FCC researchers would pressure the press on what to cover

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com

The American Center for Law and Justice is warning of an Obama administration plan to place government monitors in newsrooms via an FCC proposal that could turn every major news network and newspaper into little more than a state media mouthpiece.

Image: CNN Newsroom (Wikimedia Commons).

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai recently lifted the lid on a shocking White House proposal entitled ‘Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs’ that would dispatch researchers from the federal agency “to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.”

According to Pai, the program is about “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.” In other words – the fairness doctrine on steroids.

“That’s right, the Obama Administration has developed a formula of what it believes the free press should cover, and it is going to send government monitors into newsrooms across America to stand over the shoulders of the press as they make editorial decisions,” writes the ACLJ’s Matthew Clark, noting that the plan would also extend to newspapers, which the FCC doesn’t even have any business being involved with.

Distrust in mainstream media has been on a steady decline for years, with a recent Gallup poll confirming that just 23 per cent of Americans trust the institution of television news. This lack of confidence has driven ratings down, with MSNBC losing almost half of its viewers over the course of just 12 months, shedding 45 per cent of its audience. CNN also lost 48 per cent of its viewers over the same time period.

The United States’ world ranking in terms of freedom of the press also recently fell to number 46, below the likes of South Africa, Slovenia and Lithuania.

Earlier this month, the New York Times’s own writers told a newspaper that NY Times opinion pieces are now seen as “irrelevant” and have no impact on public discourse whatsoever.

The FCC’s attempt to police newsrooms is a desperate attempt to redress the fact that, as Hillary Clinton admitted, the Obama administration is “losing the information war” to other news sources whose audiences are growing.

However, those alternative news outlets are not growing because of slick propaganda, they are stealing audience share from the mainstream because they at least try to act in an adversarial role to the state rather than being a conduit for its talking points.

“Every major repressive regime of the modern era has begun with an attempt to control and intimidate the press,” warns Clark, adding, “It’s hard to imaging anything more brazenly Orwellian than government monitors in newsrooms.”

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