The First Amendment to the Constitution of United States is critical to freedom. These freedoms are not conditional, and they are not subjective. These freedoms must be protected for all, even for those with whom we disagree.
The First Amendment says: 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.
It is very clear that Congress can not make any law abridging the freedom of the press. Notice, the freedom is not conditioned based on the accuracy of the story. The freedom is not conditioned based on the slant of the story, the omitting of pertinent facts, or the abusive personality of the reporter. The founders understood if freedom was conditional it was not a guaranteed freedom. A free nation cannot remain free if we condition the freedom of the press on any subjective criteria.
I was asked the other evening if I thought we would ever have an honest and objective press. My answer was that we never have had and the chances of ever having a totally factual and objective press are non-existent. Reporters and other news people are individuals with all the flaws inherent in human nature.
It is critical that we as citizens of a free nation be discerning when we are reading or listening to different news reporters and outlets. It is critical that we gather our news from several different sources and as we understand a certain source is intentionally misleading, we eliminate that source.
This concept of reporters intentionally using misleading, false, slanderous, or slanted stories is not new to American politics, any other nations politics, or world politics.
Here are a couple of examples of slanderous stories of the past. In the fourth presidential election, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were opposing each other. Adams was the current President. Adams and Jefferson had played critical roles in the fight for our independence. They had been close friends but grew to be bitter opponents because of their differing political opinions.
Back then, presidential candidates didn't actively campaign. In fact, Adams and Jefferson spent much of the election season at their respective homes in Massachusetts and Virginia. A key difference between the two politicians was that Jefferson hired a hatchet man named James Callendar to do his smearing for him. Adams, on the other hand, considered himself above such tactics. Callendar proved incredibly effective, convincing many Americans that Adams desperately wanted to attack France. Although the claim was completely untrue, voters bought it, and Jefferson stole the election.
John Quincy Adams lost the presidency to Andrew Jackson in 1828, in a bitter campaign filled with perhaps more untruthful stories than truthful stories. The slurs flew back and forth, with John Quincy Adams being labeled a pimp, and Andrew Jackson's wife getting called a slut. As the election progressed, editorials in the American newspapers read more like bathroom graffiti than political commentary. One paper reported that "General Jackson's mother was a common prostitute, brought to this country by the British soldiers! She afterward married a mulatto man, with whom she had several children, of which number General Jackson is one!"
Jackson’s wife, Rachel Jackson, never served as first lady. She died on December 22, 1828, many say, of a broken heart from the spurious attacks against her. Andrew Jackson, who dearly loved Rachel, paid a tremendous price for his victory and entered the White House a widower.
Members of the press, politicians, and others vying for power, prestige, and wealth have and will use the critical guarantee of a free press to achieve their respective desires. Bad people have and will use what is critical for freedom to gain their selfish desires. The alternative to a free press is a censored and controlled press which is the desire and dream of all who wish to limit freedom. A censored and controlled press is one of the first goals of any desirous tyrant and is essential to their success.
No, we will never have a fair and honest press, but we must insist on always having a free press. It is critical to us remaining a free and independent people as opposed to succumbing to the promised fundamental transformation to a Marxist tyrannical state under the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.