Senate committee passes shield law defining “journalist”

posted at 9:21 am on September 13, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Journalists who clamored for a federal shield law to help them fight off legal battles to protect sources have reason to cheer.  Last night, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would shield reporters from people like Eric Holder and the Department of Justice — but that depends on the definition of the word “journalist.” Dianne Feinstein wants that to be a rather exclusive club:

Journalists and bloggers who report news to the public will be protected from being forced to testify about their work under a media shield bill passed by a Senate committee Thursday.

But the new legal protections will not extend to the controversial online website Wikileaks and others whose principal work involves disclosing “primary-source documents … without authorization.” …

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website.

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” she said.

Feinstein introduced an amendment that defines a “covered journalist” as someone who gathers and reports news for “an entity or service that disseminates news and information.” The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any “legitimate news-gathering activities.”

This at least goes farther than the Senate first indicated about classifying journalists, which initially required employment by a media outlet.  However, this still leaves the definition of who gets the shield in the hands of the government that wants to get the source information, and that’s not just a risk for bloggers, free-lancers, and part-timers.  Feinstein et al left a rather large loophole in that regard:

But the bill also makes it clear that the legal protection is not absolute. Federal officials still may “compel disclosure” from a journalist who has information that could stop or prevent crimes such as murder, kidnapping or child abduction or prevent “acts of terrorism” or significant harm to national security.

“Harm to national security” is a usefully ambiguous term. For instance, even though this bill is in part prompted by the DoJ’s pursuit of James Rosen — listing him as a co-conspirator to espionage in court documents in order to spy on him — the predicate for that abuse would still stand.  If the DoJ made a representation to the court after this shield law passes that is similar to what Holder approved on Rosen, a court would still be able to approve the surveillance so that the DoJ could discover Rosen’s sources.  The other hypotheticals in the exception list are all red herrings; the ambiguous national-security exception is what the DoJ and other government agencies really want.

And, of course, it still means that the government gets to define journalists in as narrow a sense as they like for the purposes of applying this shield. Reporters for newspapers and broadcast outlets would certainly be covered, but that certainty ebbs the farther one goes from that core.  What about writers at online sites like Hot Air and Huffington Post? Probably covered. RedState and Firedoglake?  Well … are they journalists or activists?  If the government gets to define it, then probably the latter — and that’s going to be more true for less-commercial online sites. Will writers at those sites feel more or less free to run real reporting based on inside sources?  Better yet, will the inside sources want to talk with writers whose shield is very questionable, or to reporters whose shield will be more substantial?

This is basically rent-seeking by the big players in the media market, a sham by the Senate, and an affront to the First Amendment.  Any shield law should concern itself with process and not identification.  The founders did not include the First Amendment in order to allow the government to decide who gets its protections. If the shield is an extension of the First Amendment, then it applies to everyone involved in journalistic efforts, or no one at all.

Update: Drudge is all over this today, and Twitchy has a good accounting of the Twitter traffic on it.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

So the government and hacks like Feinstein get to interpret the Constitution now? I thought the Constitution was set up to prevent this very sort of thing.

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 9:26 AM

When are they gonna define speech, First Amendment-wise?

Akzed on September 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Corrupt. The beatings will continue till someone grows a pair…

Alinsky on September 13, 2013 at 9:28 AM

What are these real reporters she speaks of?

fogw on September 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

The founders did not include the First Amendment in order to allow the government to decide who gets its protections. If the shield is an extension of the First Amendment, then it applies to everyone involved in journalistic efforts, or no one at all.

We no longer live by the First Amendment. When the Politburo is established the first thing they will do is suspend our civil rights. We must wait to see what our leaders in DC decide our rights are.

Happy Nomad on September 13, 2013 at 9:30 AM

If the shield is an extension of the First Amendment, then it applies to everyone involved in journalistic efforts, or no one at all.

But what is a journalistic effort? Quite frankly Congress even attempting to define what is or isn’t journalism I think is unconstitutional. And Feinstein’s comments about 17 year old bloggers should be extremely offensive to every American. It is not the responsibility of our leaders to define speech and/or journalism.

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 9:31 AM

For instance, even though this bill is in part prompted by the DoJ’s pursuit of James Rosen… the predicate for that abuse would still stand.

What? You mean to say statists have taken a drive to correct an obvious injustice and, rather than solve the problem, instead cynically used it as a excuse to tighten their grip on the throat of the people, while simultaneously making the problem worse so that it will occur again in the future and allow the cycle to be repeated? Wow. Good thing this is the first time that’s ever happened.

Fabozz on September 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

What are these real reporters she speaks of?

Democrats.

Fabozz on September 13, 2013 at 9:32 AM

‘The Bill of Rights changed the original Constitution into a new charter under which no branch of government could abridge the people’s freedoms of press, speech, religion, and assembly. Yet the Solicitor General argues and some members of the Court appear to agree that the general powers of the Government adopted in the original Constitution should be interpreted to limit and restrict the specific and emphatic guarantees of the Bill of Rights adopted later. I can imagine no greater perversion of history.

Madison and the other Framers of the First Amendment, able men that they were, wrote in language they earnestly believed could never be misunderstood: ‘Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom . . . of the press. . .’

Both the history and language of the First Amendment support the view that the press must be left free to publish news, whatever the source, without censorship, injunctions, or prior restraints…In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy.

The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government. And paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people.

In other words, we are asked to hold that, despite the First Amendment’s emphatic command, the Executive Branch, the Congress, and the Judiciary can make laws enjoining publication of current news and abridging freedom of the press in the name of ‘national security.’ The Government does not even attempt to rely on any act of Congress. Instead, it makes the bold and dangerously far-reaching contention that the courts should take it upon themselves to ‘make’ a law abridging freedom of the press in the name of equity, presidential power and national security, even when the representatives of the people in Congress have adhered to the command of the First Amendment and refused to make such a law.

The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have [to] bare the secrets of government and inform the people.’

– Justice Hugo Black, writing for the majority, in New York Times Co. v United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971)

The Free Press Clause protects the freedom to publish, not solely writers and commercial publishers. The Founders intended for the lowliest, volunteer pamphleteer have the same constitutional protections as the Publisher of the New York Times or ‘journalists,’ who are paid for their work. The protection is to the publication – IN ANY MANNER – not merely to whom is doing the publishing (just as lawmakers were not full-time and had other jobs in the ‘real world,’ the Founding Fathers recognised that one could be both a farmer and a member of the ‘press.’)

In the first case the Supreme Court dealing with the Free Press Clause, Lovell v City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938), Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes defined ‘press’ as ‘every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion’ based upon the writings of the Founding Fathers.

The ‘press’ be it someone at the NYT or a blogger has First Amendment rights and CANNOT be prosecuted for seeking and publishing information.

The exceptions are where a member of the press turns documents or other information over to a foreign country or foreign national acting on behalf of a foreign country OR where a journalist conspires with another to gain access and sell/publish it.

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Yeah, great. Expose a GOP’ers criminality, you’re a journalist.

Expose a demorat doing the same thing, you’re not a journalist.

Wait until these Nazis begin classifying who is and isn’t a citizen in certain matters.

Bishop on September 13, 2013 at 9:36 AM

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 9:33 AM

Your post comes dangerously close to practicing journalism, and I’m not sure you have the proper federal credentials to do that. Show us your papers.

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

And yeah, these pricks are sowing the wind right now, tightening their fascist grip while distancing themselves from the people they supposedly represent. The time is coming for a national divorce.

Bishop on September 13, 2013 at 9:39 AM

Bwahahahahaha. Congress is now trying to redefine the First Amendment and to whom it applies?

They can’t be serious. Is this what they believe people want them to do?

I’ll wait for the first litigation challenge to this gigantic waste of time. That’s if it actually passes into law.

Marcus Traianus on September 13, 2013 at 9:41 AM

This is completely asinine and unbecoming of this once great nation.

This will effectively nationalize the press and give government full control over who has permission to speak.

Any senator who voted for this needs to be ousted. IMMEADIATELY. With tar and feathers. These people no longer represent us.

Skywise on September 13, 2013 at 9:43 AM

I gotcha journalism right here, DiFi

Sheesh… What will the dems do if they cannot control the JournOLists???

Key West Reader on September 13, 2013 at 9:43 AM

‘Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves. Is any blogger out there saying anything — do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times. You can sit in your mother’s basement and chat away, I don’t care. But when you start talking about classified programs, that’s when it gets to be important. So, if classified information is leaked out on a personal website or [by] some blogger, do they have the same First Amendments rights as somebody who gets paid [in] traditional journalism?’

- Senator Lindsey Graham, Lindsey Graham Isn’t Sure If Bloggers Deserve ‘First Amendment Protection,’ National Journal, 5 June 2013

Fascism runs deep on both sides of the aisle.

‘It’s for your own good! THE CHILDREN! National Security! eL3vEnTy1!1!1!’

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Congress definition of reporter:

One who hides the truth when it runs against the liberal agenda, lives in a bubble with no connection to regular Americans, writes puff pieces with no objective conclusions, and carries a ready set of knee pads so they can service their favorite lib congressperson of choice.

itsspideyman on September 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM

Your post comes dangerously close to practicing journalism, and I’m not sure you have the proper federal credentials to do that. Show us your papers.

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 9:38 AM

Thx. Remember when ‘Paphurs, please!’ was the Left’s reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070?

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM

You’re too damn smart for your own good. You must be re-educated. Report to room 101 immediately. How many fingers am I holding up?

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Thx. Remember when ‘Paphurs, please!’ was the Left’s reaction to Arizona’s SB 1070?

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 9:45 AM

Yes. Of course the right to illegally cross borders is not protected in our Constitution. The priorities of these fascists is disgusting.

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

As someone who was a Radio news Director in college, and is now a BLogger, the difference between me and a reporter is the fact they get paid, and I actually do my research.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

What are these real reporters she speaks of?

fogw on September 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

They’re the ones carrying the nightsticks and licensed by the state.

JellyToast on September 13, 2013 at 9:51 AM

I’ll stick with my First Amendment. If they don’t like my chops, they are free to come after me. I’m right here.

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 9:52 AM

I’m with you, my friend. Hey, who’s the dude with the black suit coming in my off

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Thomas Paine would be arrested by Diane Feinstein.

So much for Common Sense.

Chris of Rights on September 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 9:53 AM

Lolz! Fortunately for me I love the sound of little black choppers.

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

When are they gonna define speech, First Amendment-wise?

Akzed on September 13, 2013 at 9:27 AM

Already have. When it agrees with them its protected under the First Amendment. Period.
If a congressman doesn’t stand up soon and point her out as the treasonous operative of this fascist regime that she is, and demand charges immediately be brought, they can consider themselves an accessory to her crimes.
We’ve been cowered too long by monsters like this. Her and Lois Lerner, with God’s will shall spend the rest of their days in a maximum federal penitentiary for their crimes against the U.S.A.

onomo on September 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

The only way to protect the First Amendment is with the Second Amendment – G. Washington.

HomeoftheBrave on September 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Prior post paraphrased. Sorry.

HomeoftheBrave on September 13, 2013 at 9:55 AM

Lolz! Fortunately for me I love the sound of little black choppers.

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Racist?

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

As someone who was a Radio news Director in college, and is now a BLogger, the difference between me and a reporter is the fact they get paid, and I actually do my research.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 9:49 AM

I’m pretty sure you are committing a felony by calling yourself a reporter/journalist. And in order to better protect our constitutional rights we need laws like the following:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuremberg_Laws

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

“Journalist” reports “news” as instructed by Government.
Reporting of “unauthorized” news is done by “Enemy.”

Kenosha Kid on September 13, 2013 at 9:57 AM

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 9:56 AM

I was only following orders.

…usually, my bride’s.

kingsjester on September 13, 2013 at 9:58 AM

We don’t need a shield law, “Journalists” deserve no special privileges, especially if they are defined by the Federal Government. What Holder did with Rosen was wrong and he should be held accountable, but Journalists don’t deserve special privileges.

Perhaps if journalists weren’t so smug and biased I might feel differently, but with most journalism being Washington sycophants I fear that they will be protected as “journalists” while the true truth seekers will be shut down with force.

Daemonocracy on September 13, 2013 at 9:59 AM

I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege

No one gets special privileges, you blithering idiot. The First Amendment is about freedom of “the press” – not “the media”, not “journalists”, but freedom for people who would use a press to make public statements. And that freedom doesn’t mean anything about protecting those people against breaking any other laws. The New York Slimes and WaPo committed espionage when they publicized details about the Bush administration’s legal surveillance of foreign phone calls (unlike Barky’s move to do the same to Americans on American soil).

I can’t stand this idiocy that maintains that “the press” in the First Amendment means “the media”. It doesn’t. It addresses anyone who would use “the press” … which means any 17 year old blogger. And it applies to opinion, not some idiotic get-out-of-jail-free card so that leftist douchebags can commit espionage and other crimes and then claim that they have some COnstitutional protection. That’s beyond a joke.

Of course, we don’t run by a Constitution anymore in the American Socialist Superstate so this is all moot. We have an 84 IQ, America-hating Indonesian who gets to do any damn thing that pops into that fevered pea-brain of his. That is how this nation runs … and runs into the ground.

It’s time for a national divorce so that we can rid ourselves of these America-haters and morons. The only way that an American Constitutional Republic will exist will be for one to be re-established in a new nation. This one is toast.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 13, 2013 at 9:59 AM

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website.

Ben Franklin need not apply.

“When Ben was 15, James founded The New-England Courant, which was the first truly independent newspaper in the colonies.

When denied the chance to write a letter to the paper for publication, Franklin adopted the pseudonym of “Mrs. Silence Dogood”, a middle-aged widow. “Mrs. Dogood”‘s letters were published, and became a subject of conversation around town. Neither James nor the Courant’s readers were aware of the ruse, and James was unhappy with Ben when he discovered the popular correspondent was his younger brother. Franklin left his apprenticeship without permission, and in so doing became a fugitive.

At age 17, Franklin ran away to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, seeking a new start in a new city. When he first arrived, he worked in several printer shops around town…

In 1728, Franklin (aged 22) had set up a printing house in partnership with Hugh Meredith; the following year he became the publisher of a newspaper called The Pennsylvania Gazette. The Gazette gave Franklin a forum for agitation about a variety of local reforms and initiatives through printed essays and observations. Over time, his commentary, and his adroit cultivation of a positive image as an industrious and intellectual young man, earned him a great deal of social respect. But even after Franklin had achieved fame as a scientist and statesman, he habitually signed his letters with the unpretentious ‘B. Franklin, Printer.’

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benjamin_Franklin#Early_life

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Here’s the test… is Al Sharpton considered a journalist?

faraway on September 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

It was the Dog Eater administration who said that FOX News wasn’t a real news organization, yes? This stupid idea has been blowing around for a while now, they just needed enough hack fools such as Feinstein to go along with it.

Bishop on September 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

The first amendment is as troubling to lefties as the second, I guess. Doctors would tell you the Democrats in government don’t much like the thirteenth either.

MTF on September 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

For instance, even though this bill is in part prompted by the DoJ’s pursuit of James Rosen — listing him as a co-conspirator to espionage in court documents in order to spy on him — the predicate for that abuse would still stand.

The Rosen case should have been thrown out by any court, to begin with. That case showed that there is no common sense in the feral government and that the Executive branch is totally out of control. Now, the New York Slimes and WaPo incidents under Bush … they certainly should have been prosecuted for espionage. And the point would not have been about their sources (though those sources were complicit, of course) but about their actions – espionage – and their intent to harm American national security.

The problem, here, is that the leftists twist anything into idiocy. If need be, the left will declare a skyscraper to be a “chair” (“you can sit on the roof, so it’s a chair”) in order to avoid any laws about buildings. Any society that allows a group to mangle the language in such a way (as we have allowed these vicious retards for a long time) is not long for this world … and in America’s case, is gone.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

The only way to protect the First Amendment is with the Second Amendment – G. Washington.

HomeoftheBrave on September 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM

Prior post paraphrased. Sorry.

HomeoftheBrave on September 13, 2013 at 9:55 AM

No apology necessary.

For some strange reason, I think George approves.

I certainly do.

questionmark on September 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

This is the most important step in complete government takeover. Elimination of free speech. This is something that the left has been after for decades.

Chris of Rights on September 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

Why doesn’t everyone have this protection? I’m confused why anyone should be compelled to disclose anything unless someone is in imminent danger.

faraway on September 13, 2013 at 10:07 AM

“Fascist” is not hyperbole. They are covert and unself-aware fascists. No less disgusting than those who lace up their jackboots.

The democrat party is the fascist party in America now. It’s that simple.

rrpjr on September 13, 2013 at 10:07 AM

So Feinstein wants to protect the Statist Obama-lovin propagandists but not citizen journalists?

Drudge is right. She is a Fascist.

WannabeAnglican on September 13, 2013 at 10:08 AM

This is an obscenity. I’m watching closely to see what republicans stand up against this. It will be a litmus test for me.

rrpjr on September 13, 2013 at 10:08 AM

On review, the arrogance behind this whole effort is amazing. Screw the press— They have the same rights I have, and their whole purpose in our Republic is to fight to preserve those rights against encroachment from government, not fight to allow encroachment so long as it doesn’t apply to them. Out of the Obama/Reid/Pelosi years the most damage will be to the press, which is now trying to institutionalize its formal propaganda role with a shield law.

MTF on September 13, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Ultimately.. what she wants the government to be able to define here is truth. Who speaks the truth and who doesn’t. Who is qualified and who isn’t.

Then.. it is just a small step from who is qualified and who isn’t to who is legal and who isn’t.

It won’t just be about applying labels but being licensed. Journalists will be licensed. And if you don’t have a license then you are acting illegally. See.. that is where they would take this. Because it will not be enough to just label one a journalist and one not.

They will want the power of law and force to stop those who aren’t journalists.

JellyToast on September 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Key West Reader on September 13, 2013 at 9:43 AM

Touched on it:

If Miz Finesteine had her way; If Baraque had his way, the only ‘legal’ Journalists’ would be those good little ‘goebbelists’ who were on journOlist.

LegendHasIt on September 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Here’s the test… is Al Sharpton considered a journalist?

faraway on September 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM

Yes, and Barack Hussein Obama is POTUS.

same/same.

Key West Reader on September 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

They’re attempting to define and establish a government-sponsored journalist guild. Absolutely chilling.

rrpjr on September 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

The First Amendment protects the right to publish. What part of this does Congress not understand:

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.

patch on September 13, 2013 at 10:11 AM

The things need to be headlined properly:

Sitting Senator Declares 1st Amendment Applies Only When Government Approves

questionmark on September 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege …”

Oh,…..well,…..thanks for nothing. Last time I’ll ever help this gal out.

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Oh that’s Rich….

Definitions by people that don’t even know what the meaning of the word IS….IS !!!!!!!!!

Bwahahahahahahahahahahahaha

roflmmfao

donabernathy on September 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The First Amendment protects the right to publish. What part of this does Congress not understand:

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.

patch on September 13, 2013 at 10:11 AM

What part do they understand?

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM

If Miz Finesteine had her way; If Baraque had his way, the only ‘legal’ Journalists’ would be those good little ‘goebbelists’ who were on journOlist.

LegendHasIt on September 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

They’re still down with the schtruggles. Just ask Ezra.

/The skeevy little clown. heh.

Key West Reader on September 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Oh,…..well,…..thanks for nothing. Last time I’ll ever help this gal out.

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 10:13 AM

Couldn’t you have found a fedora too? Pulled down low, to help cover that face?

questionmark on September 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

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.

patch on September 13, 2013 at 10:11 AM

Hide yer pamphlets..

Key West Reader on September 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

What about writers at online sites like Hot Air and Huffington Post? Probably covered. RedState and Firedoglake? Well … are they journalists or activists? If the government gets to define it, then probably the latter — and that’s going to be more true for less-commercial online sites. Will writers at those sites feel more or less free to run real reporting based on inside sources? Better yet, will the inside sources want to talk with writers whose shield is very questionable, or to reporters whose shield will be more substantial?

This is basically rent-seeking by the big players in the media market, a sham by the Senate, and an affront to the First Amendment.

“Well, Doctor Franklin, what have we got…a Republic or a Monarchy?” – Citizen outside Independence Hall

“A Republic, if you can keep it.” – Ben Franklin

ATTRIBUTION: The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.

The Pennsylvania Gazette (est.1728) gave Ben Franklin a forum for agitation about a variety of local reforms and initiatives through printed essays and observations.

Over time, his commentary, and his adroit cultivation of a positive image as an industrious and intellectual young man, earned him a great deal of social respect.

In 1733, Franklin began to publish the famous Poor Richard’s Almanack.

In 1741 Franklin began publishing “The General Magazine and Historical Chronicle for all the British Plantations in America”, the first such monthly magazine of this type published in America.

Citizen Bloggers…are the natural descendants of Ben Franklin & pamphleteers like Thomas Paine, continuing an important legacy and in many cases the only credible recording of events and commentary on cultural,political and legal issues that are often ignored or suppressed by conventional media.

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:21 AM

I

AM

THE

PRESS

questionmark on September 13, 2013 at 10:22 AM

Fascism runs deep on both sides of the aisle.

‘It’s for your own good! THE CHILDREN! National Security! eL3vEnTy1!1!1!’

Resist We Much on September 13, 2013 at 9:44 AM

and in a lot of nanny state groups.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 13, 2013 at 10:23 AM

How many fingers am I holding up?

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 9:46 AM

Eleven. You are holding up eleven fingers.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 13, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Government-sanctioned news organizations!

You know like Pravda or TASS or the People’s Daily Online.

PackerBronco on September 13, 2013 at 10:25 AM

If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.

Benjamin Franklin

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to “real reporters” and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website.

How about “we” limit legal protection for anyone “voted” into office.

JAYTBMF on September 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege …”

Special privilege?

You mean like, uh, the first amendment?

PackerBronco on September 13, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Where liberty is, there is my country.

Benjamin Franklin

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:29 AM

Politicians defining who/what freedom of the press is? There needs to be a court challenge to this if it goes any further.

In the mean time – brace for persecution.

TerryW on September 13, 2013 at 10:30 AM

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.

And the folks are OK with this because we all know a 17-year old with a blog isn’t “really” a journalist, right?

If this passes unchallenged, or if challenged, the Supreme Court decides that well, it isn’t really a tax or somethin’, and allows it to stand…we all, all of us, Citizens, have a choice…a simple choice…fight it, and government, tooth and nail…or pay the damn jizya and keep our damn mouths shut forever more.

coldwarrior on September 13, 2013 at 10:30 AM

questionmark on September 13, 2013 at 10:16 AM

Lolz! Burka?

Bmore on September 13, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Trying to establish a Guild for journolistas sanctioned by Fascists in our Government….

How very old skool european…How very Fascist.

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:33 AM

They’re attempting to define and establish a government-sponsored journalist guild. Absolutely chilling.

rrpjr on September 13, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Indeed.

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:38 AM

This is the most important step in complete government takeover. Elimination of free speech. This is something that the left has been after for decades.

Chris of Rights on September 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

I’d have to disagree with that. I think the most important step in government takeover is disarming the populace. Once you do that eliminating any other freedom including free speech is simple.

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM

What part do they understand?

NotCoach on September 13, 2013 at 10:14 AM

They understand a couple of parts. The part that gives the right to abortion on demand and that part that allows the government to take your property and give it to their friends in exchange for campaign contributions.

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 10:42 AM

What are these real reporters she speaks of?

fogw on September 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

Presstitute organs of the Rats.

Steve Eggleston on September 13, 2013 at 10:43 AM

What are these real reporters she speaks of?

fogw on September 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM

15 Journalists Have Joined Obama Administration

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/09/13/15-journalists-have-joined-obama-administration

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:43 AM

This is the most important step in complete government takeover. Elimination of free speech. This is something that the left has been after for decades.

Chris of Rights on September 13, 2013 at 10:05 AM

I’d have to disagree with that. I think the most important step in government takeover is disarming the populace. Once you do that eliminating any other freedom including free speech is simple.

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 10:39 AM

They work hand-in-glove together, which is why the Left has pushed both equally hard.

Steve Eggleston on September 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM

Eleven. You are holding up eleven fingers.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 13, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Nah, it’s only ten. That one in the middle there, that’s not really a finger.

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 10:45 AM

What about writers at online sites like Hot Air and Huffington Post? Probably covered. RedState and Firedoglake? Well … are they journalists or activists? If the government gets to define it, then probably the latter — and that’s going to be more true for less-commercial online sites.

Prediction – HuffPo and Firedoglake get covered, Hot Air and RedState won’t.

Steve Eggleston on September 13, 2013 at 10:46 AM

This has to make it through both the Senate and the House to become law. Doesn’t it?

Oldnuke on September 13, 2013 at 10:48 AM

More and more Americans are getting their News from the internet and Blogs fill a vital role that used to be executed by the Main Stream Media at the local…national and international level.

Feinstein’s denigration of Bloggers is an insulting dismissal typical of Fascists.

This action reveals her FEAR…The FEAR many Government officials and Corrupt Corporate Media cling to…The Fear of scrutiny & criticism by the citizenry.

“Whether the number is 15 or 19, the fact that this many so-called journalists from outlets as influential as CBS, ABC, CNN, Time, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times want to work at the very same administration they are supposed to hold accountable, is not only troubling, it also explains a lot.

Why would anyone enamored enough with an Obama administration they want to go work for, do anything that might make a potential employer uncomfortable — you know, like actually report on ObamaCare and the economy honestly, or dig into Benghazi and the IRS?

The media is left-wing and crusading enough without the potential of a cushy government job being held out as a carrot.

And don’t think the Obama administration isn’t doling out these jobs for a reason. What a wonderful message to send to the world of media: Don’t go too far, don’t burn a bridge, don’t upset us too much and there just might be a lifeline off the sinking MSM ship.

And obviously it is working.

On top of this problem, you have a number of top news network executives related to top Obama officials, many of them at the center of the Benghazi scandal – which also explains a lot…”

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2013/09/13/15-journalists-have-joined-obama-administration

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM

What about writers at online sites like Hot Air and Huffington Post? Probably covered. RedState and Firedoglake? Well … are they journalists or activists? If the government gets to define it, then probably the latter — and that’s going to be more true for less-commercial online sites.

Prediction – HuffPo and Firedoglake get covered, Hot Air and RedState won’t.

Steve Eggleston on September 13, 2013 at 10:46 AM

Indeed.

Nobody expects The Spanish Inquisition IRS…DOJ…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7WJXHY2OXGE

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:54 AM

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Don’t forget how, way back in the beginning of Barky’s illegitimate tenure how Axelrod (officially of the junta, at the time) was holding regular morning meetings with Stephalopogous and Carville (of CNN, at the time) to coordinate the day’s “news”.

Even after this became known nothing happened and few seemed to care. Of course, to care about that sort of collusion between the administration and media would have been … “RAAAAACIST!!!”

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Don’t forget how, way back in the beginning of Barky’s illegitimate tenure how Axelrod (officially of the junta, at the time) was holding regular morning meetings with Stephalopogous and Carville (of CNN, at the time) to coordinate the day’s “news”.

Even after this became known nothing happened and few seemed to care. Of course, to care about that sort of collusion between the administration and media would have been … “RAAAAACIST!!!”

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on September 13, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Yep.

Fascist is as Fascist does.

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:59 AM

WTH should jouranlists get any sort of special protection related to anything? Sorry, but I believe in equality of the law. If I can’t do something because I’m just a poor schlub, then no one else ought to get to, either.

GWB on September 13, 2013 at 11:11 AM

Dianne Feinstein wants that to be a rather exclusive club:

The scumhag wants only those who live in leftist’s azzes to be “journalists”. In reality they are the worst of all the harlots.

May they suffocate from what they consume. It ain’t Beluga caviar, foolish creatures. I hope you never get out alive from obama’s azz.

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Don’t miss this.

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2013 at 11:21 AM

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Yes, we are all journalists.

I get more intense and accurate information from sources here than the old media, which apparently has decided, for some sad reason, to become a mouthpiece for the Democrats in general and this administration in particular.

BigAlSouth on September 13, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Having unsuccessfully attacked the 2nd ammendment, pretty much got away with attacking the 4th, they are now after the 1st.

Every last one of them needs to be removed, since, as enemies of the Constitution, they cannot be defined as “Americans”.

virgo on September 13, 2013 at 11:22 AM

More fascism at work from the party of fascists.

Nice to see the progressives line up to protect their special interest groups who are protecting the progressives. Lots of ethical and intellectual bankruptcy all around on this farce.

Athos on September 13, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Workingclass artist, Wonderful post about Ben Franklin.

celtic warrior on September 13, 2013 at 11:23 AM

Under the definition proposed by Feinstein, a student working for a tiny college newspaper would get protection, but Matt Drudge, the owner and operator of the most successful news site on the Internet, might not.

Those who expose and mock the Left are never reporters.

Goebbels loves the leftist swine, all of you.

That the righties don’t fight them, with equal impertinence is the bigger shame.

Schadenfreude on September 13, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Time to send out the Cruz missile to destroy her on the 1st amendment like he did on the 2nd amendment last time

AH_C on September 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM

I’m sure the king didn’t like Pamphleteers either. Aside from all of this will Liberals quite telling me how repressive Republicans are. The Democrats are the ones trying to take away your freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to own a gun, freedom to protect yourself and, by cheating the way they do in elections, the integrity of the election process. As long as we can debate them, understanding that’s what they want to do, I’m alright with it because if they’re honest, they can’t get elected.

bflat879 on September 13, 2013 at 11:38 AM

Corrupt. The beatings will continue till someone grows a pair…

Alinsky on September 13, 2013 at 9:28 AM

Beatings will continue, and likely get worse.

petefrt on September 13, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Thomas Paine was never an accredited journalist.

coldwarrior on September 13, 2013 at 11:46 AM

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Yes, we are all journalists.

I get more intense and accurate information from sources here than the old media, which apparently has decided, for some sad reason, to become a mouthpiece for the Democrats in general and this administration in particular.

BigAlSouth on September 13, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Indeed.

We are all of us citizen essayists engaged in the last frontier of Free Exchange of Ideas and Opinion.

This is the Free Press…And if Ben Franklin were publishing today he’d look a lot like Breitbart…or Hotair……or Ace…Or any number of interesting writers who encourage dialogue and are not afraid to scrutinize and critique what is happening around them on issues they think are important.

Blogs and their commentary communities allow for the free exchange of ideas…news links…commentary…stories…

The push by conventional media on the net to link social media to comment threads on blogs is to apply a subtle pressure of censorship by silencing today’s “Silence Dogood’s”

It is unfortunate how many great blogs have now switched commentary threads almost entirely over to social media like Face Book and Twitter.

It is one thing to have a social media presence and quite another to limit comment threads entirely to social media…which encourages forms of censorship either through identity links or through format limitations like those on twitter.

Fortunately…Hot Air is a site that still has the blog comment thread which allows for a freer exchange of information and dialogue…And Ace’s place is a free-for-all gem of a wickedly funny and biting comment community. For some of us…this is our best place to dialogue since it has become increasingly difficult to do this in other social situations in our current PC society that censors free expression.

Ben Franklin…Rank amateur that he was…An entirely self motivated and self educated American would not be allowed into the Fascist Journalism Guild Sen. Feinstein proposes…neither would Thomas Paine and other essayists without whom we would not have this country.

May these New Skool American Fascists Rot in Hell!

workingclass artist on September 13, 2013 at 11:52 AM

The left knows deep in their chest (where a heart should be) these truthes. It’s why they’re so adamantly attacking the peasant class they’ve created. We, the people.
She’s clearly an immediate threat to the safety of our children. If we still had the rule of law instead of tyranny, she’d be properly tried and hanged by now. And the rest of her vermin ilk would slither back into the darkness as best they could.
More have to be called out for their collaboration with the treasonous, racist, baby killers of the left. The time to stand up is now. Its the “journolists” that need to be brought into the light of justice.
We’ll have to expand Gitmo. The soccer field will have to go. And they really really need a gallows close by. The rule of law will return. It is their greatest fear. Their greatest threat. They will become even more tyrannical and more dangerous until they are brought to justice.

onomo on September 13, 2013 at 11:55 AM

Comment pages: 1 2 3