The free press is a pillar of democracy

Attacking the media or publications that lean in a different direction than the Republican Party is decidedly good politics. We conservatives have long suffered from the left-leaning attitudes and reporting of the media. But today, if we don’t like one outlet, there are others from which we can—and do—choose. And, more importantly, denigrating the media diminishes an institution that is critical to democracy, both here and abroad. As a political tactic, it may be brilliant, but it comes with a large cost to the cause of freedom.

At one of my recent campaign events I was asked whether I would, “take action to shut down ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and the New York Times.” When I responded “of course not,” and that, in fact, I would do everything in my power to preserve freedom of speech, the person persisted by arguing that these outlets purvey fake news. I found this deeply disturbing. How different from when I was growing up; no one then would seriously consider stifling the free press for publishing the news and opinion as they saw fit.

My questioner, however, did raise a valid point: isn’t the media biased? Of course it is. Humans are biased and the media is populated by humans. The founders knew that the media would be biased; because humans are involved, there is no other way. We can and should call for accuracy and responsibility in reporting from every member of the press. But a free press, even if biased, was guaranteed in our Constitution because it is critical to the preservation of the Republic.