How many journos actually fell into the reporter-registration trap?

posted at 8:41 am on January 20, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

Yesterday, a proposal by South Carolina state representative Mike Pitts floated the idea of requiring journalists to register with the state to ensure a responsible approach to the First Amendment. As someone who has more than a passing familiarity with Second Amendment activism, the “South Carolina Responsible Journalism Registry Law” was immediately recognizable as a provocation to the media over its reporting on gun control demands. Unfortunately, a number of journalists showed themselves to be woefully unfamiliar with the gun-rights argument about regulating the First Amendment to match the way gun-control advocates want to regulate the Second Amendment, as could be seen in numerous tweets.

Washington Post reporter Callum Borchers unfortunately took his outrage to print … without actually doing enough due diligence to ask Pitts exactly what he had in mind:

My visceral reaction isn’t printable but can be summarized thusly: This is a naked attack on the First Amendment — you know, the one that says “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech or of the press.” I realize we’re talking about a state legislature here, not Congress, but we’re also talking about one of the nation’s founding principles.

That aside, this kind of law would be completely unworkable. Look, there’s plenty of media garbage out there, but everyone has a different definition of what garbage is. Does anyone want a bunch of self-interested government officials setting the standard?

We register surgeons and pilots and teachers and people in many, many other professions. You can make a coherent case that journalism is a very important profession too, but there’s a reason why journalists have reputations, instead of licenses. They have a fundamental American right to share information, and their audiences have a right to decide whether to believe it or dismiss it. By contrast, no one is entitled to remove brain tumors, fly airplanes or teach third-graders.

There’s also a practical problem: How on Earth would South Carolina’s secretary of state, charged with maintaining the registry, do its job here, anyway? Journalists can’t even define who is a journalist anymore, what with all the bloggers and tweeters posting the kind of information and opinion that used to come only from a highly institutionalized press. Good luck to Pitts when it comes to crafting a legal definition of journalism.

Come to think of it, that’s really the great folly here. What Pitts is proposing isn’t just wrong; it simply can’t be done. There’s no stopping people from spreading the news in a digital society — certainly not with some outdated idea for a registry.

This, as I noted last night, is what is called falling into the trap. National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke springs it:

Had Borchers asked Pitts to explain the bill, perhaps the Post wouldn’t have inadvertently explained most of the reasons a gun registry — which would only involve people who obey the law anyway — would both be impractical and offend the Constitution. Or he and other journalists could have simply read this Post and Courier story about the proposal which went up two hours earlier, and which did belatedly ask Pitts about his intentions. It takes them six paragraphs to get to it, though, and their lead still declares that Pitts “says it’s time to register journalists in the state,” even though he clearly tells them it’s not the point:

Pitts told The Post and Courier his bill is not a reaction to any news story featuring him and that he is “not a press hater.” Rather, it’s to stimulate discussion over how he sees Second Amendment rights being treated by the printed press and television news. He added that the bill is modeled directly after the “concealed weapons permitting law.”

“It strikes me as ironic that the first question is constitutionality from a press that has no problem demonizing firearms,” Pitts said. “With this statement I’m talking primarily about printed press and TV. The TV stations, the six o’clock news and the printed press has no qualms demonizing gun owners and gun ownership.”

Under the bill, the Secretary of State’s Office would be tasked with keeping a “responsible journalism registry” and creating the criteria with the help of a panel on what qualifies a person as a journalist — similar to doctors and lawyers, Pitts said.

Pitts said the criminal penalties mentioned in his bill for violations would be “minor fines” similar to those concealed weapons permit holders face.

In other words, Pitts isn’t “say[ing] it’s time to register journalists in the state.” He’s saying that it’s time journalists stop being hypocritical absolutists about the First Amendment while learning nothing about the Second Amendment. Perhaps not even Pitts realized just how many journalists would miss the point — and fall into the trap of making his argument for him. And on top of that, Pitts even managed to get some to demonstrate that irresponsible journalism is a problem as well:

Well played.


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Comments

Few can pass a back ground check.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 20, 2016 at 8:45 AM

If a license can be required to buy and sell firearms under the 2nd Amendment then licenses can be required to buy/sell/deal in the first.

Reporters are too left wing to see that…

ConstantineXI on January 20, 2016 at 8:45 AM

This story, as all stories of journalistic integrity fail, will eventually fall into “does bear shit in the woods” category.

Rix on January 20, 2016 at 8:46 AM

Cannot….stop….laughing…

Mentally, Journos are like reactionary layabout teenagers.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on January 20, 2016 at 8:46 AM

To few would use the words Islamic Terror.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 20, 2016 at 8:47 AM

Wait a tic, this sounds like a Distraction Operation,
during this election cycle!
(sarc)

canopfor on January 20, 2016 at 8:48 AM

It’s disappointing that there are still reactionary mouth-breathers going around saying “The 1st Amendment is my Journalism License”. It’s 2016 people! Irresponsible journalism gets people killed and businesses burnt. Look at Ferguson! If it saves one life, properly regulating the 1st Amendment, just like other rights are regulated, is a no brainer.

forest on January 20, 2016 at 8:48 AM

How many journos actually fell into the reporter-registration trap?
POSTED AT 8:41 AM ON JANUARY 20, 2016 BY ED MORRISSEY

…Oh!…that…was gooooooood!

JugEarsButtHurt on January 20, 2016 at 8:49 AM

Nothing says Founding Father Approved quite so much as creating new classes of citizens with special privilege Titles. Just like in the good old days of King George III

Constitutionalist on January 20, 2016 at 8:49 AM

Well said Ed…

Anyone note the dig at the end of the article regarding this linked by Drudge?

Last summer, the former law enforcement officer opposed an ultimately successful push to remove the Confederate flag from the State House grounds following the slayings of nine black parishioners at Emanuel AME in Charleston.

And that’s relevant to the story…how exactly?

Rogue on January 20, 2016 at 8:50 AM

They have a fundamental American right to share information, and their audiences have a right to decide whether to believe it or dismiss it.

Those who can’t do, write about people who do….

blammm on January 20, 2016 at 8:50 AM

Aren’t main stream media types always looking for special privileges for ‘real’ journalists vs. ‘fake’ journalists like O’Keefe? Without a registration, how are to know the good journalists from the ‘fake’ ones?

I’d also suggest registering all of their cameras and computers and mandatory writing safety classes to prevent them from writing anything inflammatory that leads to violence and death.

They also shouldn’t be allowed to write after drinking alcohol or using drugs.

nemo on January 20, 2016 at 8:50 AM

Registering journalists is just a common-sense proposal to ensure that freedom of the press is exercised responsibly. The first amendment does not grant any absolute rights.

Besides the fact that the State needs to know where journalists are to ensure compliance with subsequent licensing laws, but the public needs the information as well. Good parents don’t want their impressionable children going to the home of a member of the MSM any more than they would the home of a sex offender.

malclave on January 20, 2016 at 8:51 AM

floated the idea of requiring journalists to register with the state to ensure a responsible approach to the First Amendment
=====================

D*mn straight, Syrian refugees that practice JournOlism,
er wait, what…..

canopfor on January 20, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Oh, my … that’s the most awesome story to wake up to this morning!

If I had read his article outside of HotAir, I would have thought it was satire from the NRA.

Hilarious.

Magnolia on January 20, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Why the screencap of Trump in a story that has nothing to do with Trump?

CurtZHP on January 20, 2016 at 8:52 AM

To late the abdication is complete.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 20, 2016 at 8:53 AM

If @callumborchers @theFix had done even tiniest journalistic diligence, they would have been told that the point was to contrast gun laws.
======================

Speaking of Guns:

Gun Grabber HALT:
———————____________

FBI official: ‘Perfect storm’ imperiling gun background checks
Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY 7:49 p.m. EST January 19, 2016
*******************************************************

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The surge of criminal background checks required of new gun purchasers has been so unrelenting in recent months

that the FBI had been forced to temporarily halt the processing of thousands of appeals from prospective buyers whose firearm purchase attempts have been denied.

Since October, the bureau’s entire cadre of appeal examiners— about 70 analysts — was redeployed here to help keep pace with waves of incoming background investigations that continued through December when a record 3.3 million firearm sales were processed.
(More…)
==========

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2016/01/19/fbi-guns-background-checks/78752774/

canopfor on January 20, 2016 at 7:40 AM

canopfor on January 20, 2016 at 9:04 AM

You can make a coherent case that journalism is a very important profession too, but there’s a reason why journalists have reputations, instead of licenses.

Wrong on both counts.

Journalism used to be a respected profession but with access to information via the internet and cable news outlets. Journalists are a dime a dozen and merely news readers/stenographers. Most times they don’t even bother to think about the crap they parrot out based on the framework of a specific agenda. Callum Borchers (D-WaPo) is so damned stupid on the issues he didn’t even tumble to the parody in this proposed legislation. How are we to take anything Borchers writes seriously when he clearly is and ideologue and not somebody interested in actually writing a news story?

Secondly, to say that journalists reputations regulate their industry is absurd. Glenn Kessler (D-WaPo), Doris Kerns Goodwin (D-at large), and countless other “journalists” have proven themselves to be hacks with zero objectivity. The CNBC GOP debate was not a fluke when it comes to media bias. The world would be a much better place if we didn’t have idiots like Borchers running around practicing journalism without a license.

Happy Nomad on January 20, 2016 at 9:07 AM

Perhaps not even Pitts realized just how many journalists would miss the point

That’s because they are not journalists. They merely regurgitate Fascist-Democrat talking points. They do not do any critical thinking, which of course is now frowned upon in higher indocrination.

rbj on January 20, 2016 at 9:07 AM

We also need to ensure vetted and approved journalists are unable to gift or will their note pads, laptops or typewriters to their unscreened relatives.

…and what about the flea market loophole? I’ve seen untraceable pencils and pens being sold in the back corners.

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on January 20, 2016 at 9:07 AM

Registering journalists is just a common-sense proposal to ensure that freedom of the press is exercised responsibly. The first amendment does not grant any absolute rights.

malclave on January 20, 2016 at 8:51 AM

Yeah but the National Press Club ensures that the Congress will not even consider common-sense limitations on reporting.

Happy Nomad on January 20, 2016 at 9:10 AM

awesome lesson to journos.

wolly4321 on January 20, 2016 at 9:12 AM

perhaps the Post wouldn’t have inadvertently explained most of the reasons a gun registry — which would only involve people who obey the law anyway — would both be impractical and offend the Constitution.

Kind of like CT and NY found out when they passed those insane anti-gun laws, people refused to comply with them, and there isn’t a single thing the State can do about it.

Johnnyreb on January 20, 2016 at 9:14 AM

awesome lesson to journos.

wolly4321 on January 20, 2016 at 9:12 AM

It would be if any of them were capable of learning, hell, even Ed can’t understand the implication of the very story he wrote.

oscarwilde on January 20, 2016 at 9:18 AM

awesome lesson to journos.

wolly4321 on January 20, 2016 at 9:12 AM

and it will go completely unheeded if not completely unrecognized

Rogue on January 20, 2016 at 9:19 AM

This should be in Wikpedia under “Cognitive Dissonance”

Snowblind on January 20, 2016 at 9:19 AM

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on January 20, 2016 at 9:07 AM

I’m also concerned about the threats to children. What kind of world do we live in where young children are encouraged to be journalists?

Movies and TV need to stop promoting journalists as role models. All schools, including colleges, should institute zero-tolerance policies. Even a child pretending to be a journalist is a threat.

Think of the children!

malclave on January 20, 2016 at 9:24 AM

The first amendment was written when all there was was a printing press. Now with computers, internet, satellite TV, all able to shoot out thousands of news stories per minute, common sense reforms are needed. Why can’t these journalists be reasonable?

eaglephin on January 20, 2016 at 9:26 AM

I had to open a new roll of paper towels just to clean up the sarcasm that dripped out of my screen with this thread. It’s a beautiful thing to see.

This couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

GWB on January 20, 2016 at 9:32 AM

This is great.

Cindy Munford on January 20, 2016 at 9:33 AM

Registering journalists is just a common-sense proposal to ensure that freedom of the press is exercised responsibly. The first amendment does not grant any absolute rights.

malclave on January 20, 2016 at 8:51 AM

While seemingly nitpicky, it is extremely important in the fight against socialism and all forms of tyranny, to remind everyone that the Constitution does not grant any rights at all. I realize that you are joining in the spoof-fest to make a point, but I’m going to take the opportunity of the language used.

Natural rights are recognized in the Constitution; rights which exist as self-evident and conferred by existence upon all souls. The Constitution binds the government against intrusion upon those rights. Clarity on this fact is important in two ways:

~ Rights which are established by governmental decree could be as easily revoked in the same way. Recognizing rights which are derived from a higher source, reminds the government that they have no power to diminish them.

~ Despotic attempts to “define” new rights, as if they were suddenly discoverable between the lines of the Constitution’s text, fail under the same formula. Claiming that a “right” to same-sex marriage is found in the Constitution, while the behavior is not sustainable in nature, is a lie. Claiming that a “right” to end a life exists as some unstated artifact of an unspecified right to privacy, is abhorrent to the clearly recognized natural sanctity of life.

Freelancer on January 20, 2016 at 9:35 AM

malclave on January 20, 2016 at 9:24 AM

Hell, we’re not talking about a blog or community newsletter. Under current laws, an individual could buy and keep his own large city newspaper or high caliber TV news network!

Our founding fathers never intended this craziness.

Megyn Kellys Lipstick on January 20, 2016 at 9:36 AM

The founders could not possibly have envisioned a world where just anyone could have their own website.

Do you honestly think anyone should be able to own their own satellite uplink?? What about their own satellite??

The 1st amendment clearly only pertains to printing presses.

CurtZHP on January 20, 2016 at 9:36 AM

Bob Woodward (D-WaPo) responded by saying that he’d be licensed when they pull his steno pad from his cold dead hand.

Happy Nomad on January 20, 2016 at 9:38 AM

malclave on January 20, 2016 at 9:24 AM

I actually think we are there. We have the start of children, the the guise of college students, unable to deal with history and progress. Instead of building to make the world better, they are focused on trying to eliminate the past. Here it is the Confederate flag and confederate names being banished, in England the children students want to tear down the statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oxford. That they don’t even see themselves as the Taliban destroying the Buddhas is so very sad.

Cindy Munford on January 20, 2016 at 9:38 AM

The 1st amendment clearly only pertains to printing presses.

CurtZHP on January 20, 2016 at 9:36 AM

No citizen has a right to an assault-style printing press.

Happy Nomad on January 20, 2016 at 9:39 AM

Great comments above, well done.

Lord Whorfin on January 20, 2016 at 9:43 AM

I wish this had been tried on a national level so more suckers would have fallen for it. But then again these are the same people that Hillary was allowed to lasso, literally and figuratively.

Cindy Munford on January 20, 2016 at 9:44 AM

Any object to reasonable regulation of Journalism is an objection to common sense and a threat to children, we must enact reasonable journalism regulations for the children.

Mandatory background checks with a minimum 3 day waiting period before any one may engage in any act of journalism.

3 DAY WAITING PERIODS ON ALL STORIES FILED….

oscarwilde on January 20, 2016 at 9:45 AM

Unfortunately I saw this before I saw the proposal, so the gotcha doesn’t work for me – already informed. I can understand the contrast though – the push to regulate everything.

TerryW on January 20, 2016 at 9:45 AM

Now if they could have found some way of pretzeling this into a way to get rid of Fox and blogs they might reconsider. I guess they will stick the trying to resurrect the “Fairness” Doctrine for that.

Cindy Munford on January 20, 2016 at 9:49 AM

While there is no useful documentation supporting the idea that registering gun owners can save lives or reduce crime (in fact the opposite, any actions which lead to lower gun ownership among law-abiding citizens will naturally increase crime and gun violence), there is clear evidence that bad reporting, or reporting of invalid “facts”, can be deadly.

In a speech given by Michael Crichton following the release of his novel States of Fear, he details the larger disaster which came about as a result of publishing of false information about the after-effects of the Chernobyl incident.

While this entire presentation is well worth the time, watch from 10:35 until 17:20 for the relevant portion:

https://youtu.be/MDCCvOv3qZY?t=635

Freelancer on January 20, 2016 at 9:51 AM

I have a question “Washington Post reporter Callum Borchers ” what kind of name is that? Is he from around here?

Cindy Munford on January 20, 2016 at 9:52 AM

Tlaloc is pre-registered.

APACHEWHOKNOWS on January 20, 2016 at 9:56 AM

Well played, indeed!

This gave some much needed humor to a day that began with some amount of frustration due to incompetencies of insurance and accounting clerks, each of which likely had to have a “college degree” to obtain their current positions.

I agree. There are few, if any, real journalists (at least in the “main stream media”) anymore. Many cannot write proper English, and most investigate nothing. They “report” on easily obtainable facts, while adding their slant or that of their overlords.

IrishEyes on January 20, 2016 at 10:03 AM

LOL!

Proud graduate of the University of Missouri Journalism School and recipient of the Melissa Click Achievement award.

antipc on January 20, 2016 at 10:09 AM

I suspect that many journalists (and most or all Journolistas) would be in favor of some kind of registration and licensing of the press, just so long as it was defined and controlled by them rather than the government, like the Bar Association or the AMA. That way they could keep out riff-raff like bloggers.

myiq2xu on January 20, 2016 at 10:25 AM

Here’s some food for thought. Instead of having lists of people whom have the right to carry a firearm, — which is nearly everyone but convicted felons and the mentally ill — why don’t we create lists of the people whom MAY NOT CARRY FIREARMS. How tough would that be?

supersport667 on January 20, 2016 at 10:45 AM

Perhaps not even Pitts realized just how many journalists would miss the point — and fall into the trap of making his argument for him. And on top of that, Pitts even managed to get some to demonstrate that irresponsible journalism is a problem as well

It’s time to close the “stupid journalist show” loophole. Let’s call it the Callum Borchers Law.

Dusty on January 20, 2016 at 11:10 AM

It’s time for COMMON SENSE journalism control.
It’s for the children.
Time to stand UP to the powerful National Journalism Association.
If it can save just ONE life.

(If I search long enough I can find some bogus survey showing some imaginary majority of people are for this)

kurtzz3 on January 20, 2016 at 11:15 AM

They also shouldn’t be allowed to write after drinking alcohol or using drugs.

nemo on January 20, 2016 at 8:50 AM

Well now that’s a terrible idea!
How would we ever get the truth?

JusDreamin on January 20, 2016 at 11:36 AM

Brilliant!

Perhaps it’s time to retire to South Carolina.

oldleprechaun on January 20, 2016 at 11:40 AM

No citizen has a right to an assault-style printing press.

Happy Nomad on January 20, 2016 at 9:39 AM

When the first amendment was written, the founding fathers weren’t talking about blogs or email!1!!1
Back then presses only held a few sheets of paper. Besides, no one needs a 30 sheet capacity anyway.

JusDreamin on January 20, 2016 at 11:43 AM

There need to be picture limits for cameramen.

Now one needs 30 or 70 picture rolls. Just a few frame should be all that they need.

Plus what about cop revealing infrared film?

And High speed cameras?

There should be a journalist tax on all camera film and registration of all recorders and tablets used by Journalists.

They should be required to have 4 years of a GOOD journalism school and at least 40 hours of work in the field/street before allowed to get a license.

And no concealed carry of cameras or recorders without a really special concealed reporter license. With stringent requirements.

And let’s tax camera film/digital storage devices to pay for the program.

Any time a journalist writes a story it must include his license number.

Yeah, there’s a ‘comparable legislation I could get behind.

jake1246 on January 20, 2016 at 12:34 PM

Awesome. This called Trolling Level: State Legislature.

Good idea, and boy did the big babies fall over themselves quoting the First Amendment and such.

When it comes to THEIR freedom suddenly “Congress shall make no law” is taken seriously, eh?

Neo on January 20, 2016 at 1:05 PM

Mandatory 10 day cooling off period before printing.

IXXINY on January 20, 2016 at 2:32 PM

why don’t we create lists of the people whom MAY NOT CARRY FIREARMS. How tough would that be?

supersport667 on January 20, 2016 at 10:45 AM

Felons, truly crazy people,… and socialists/communists/fascists?

GWB on January 20, 2016 at 2:32 PM

Here’s some food for thought. Instead of having lists of people whom have the right to carry a firearm, — which is nearly everyone but convicted felons and the mentally ill — why don’t we create lists of the people whom MAY NOT CARRY FIREARMS. How tough would that be?

supersport667 on January 20, 2016 at 10:45 AM

EXCELLENT idea. The list of banned people could be distributed online, so anyone could do the background check; or on CDs for off-line checks. No chance for privacy invasions or registration lists being kept.

I like this.

ReggieA on January 20, 2016 at 3:50 PM

The complete lack of self-awareness by the left is on display. Let’s guess how they’ll handle the story now that their hypocrisy is in the spotlight.

First they came for the gun owners, but I was not a gun owner, so I said nothing. Then they came for the journalists …

RedBaker on January 20, 2016 at 7:51 PM