Conservatives should not abandon the free press

But embracing the Trump/Thomas position would be a dangerous and ultimately self-defeating mistake. It would also be an ironic retreat on the issue of free speech. In recent years conservatives have embraced the First Amendment to push back against the stifling environment on some university campuses; and have adopted sweeping interpretations of its protection on free speech to invalidate a host of campaign finance laws.

In the very recent past, conservatives were appalled and outraged by suggestions that the federal government restore the Fairness Doctrine as a way of regulating and reining in conservative talk radio. They rightly saw the doctrine as restoring a form of “speech police,” who could be used to chill and harass the expression of unpopular (read conservative) opinion.

Pre-Trump, conservatives understood that their support for a free press was based on both principle and prudence. A weapon that can be used to shutter liberal media outlets can just as easily be turned against conservative activists, publications, and outlets.

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