Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePrint this pageShare on RedditShare on Google+

Freedom of the press – which has come to mean the freedom to report on and interpret information through print, on-air, and via electronic means – is one of the foundations of a free and open society.

Our founding fathers understood that controlling the press means controlling and manipulating information. They believed that control of information is tantamount to a dictatorship.

Where the truth is obscured by political consideration, so obscured are appropriate action and prudent decisions.

The First Amendment to the Constitution, seen as a holy contract with America by many conservatives, makes it clear the freedom of speech and of the press are to be sustained – “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press. …”

It is not by accident that freedoms of speech and the press are in the First Amendment and not the Tenth. Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1786: “Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, not that be limited without danger of losing it.”

We often criticize Russia, China, Iran and other governments for abridging the freedom of the press. The right to protest and to challenge public policy and elected officials ensures disagreements are aired openly and encourages healthy dialogue.

Our founding fathers had no fear of open discourse – nor should we.

I think any news organization that promotes free speech and intelligent discussion is to be commended. I have to mention that The Signal newspaper, which some claim leans a bit to the right, has never changed a word in any of my articles or refused to run any topic based on political objection in the 13 years I have been honored to write this column.

It is a credit to The Signal and any news organization to allow unpopular yet thoughtfully prepared views to be presented.

But imagine the Santa Clarita City Council preventing the participation of specific news agencies and reporters at City Council meetings based on what they report.

How would you feel if you wished to address a local school board with your views but your proposed statement was pre-screened and your participation was denied if your comments questioned or challenged the board’s prevailing views?

As a community, we should be and would be outraged.

As we all should know by now, President Baby-Bully Trump is doing his best to villainize any press organization that fails to promote his messages and his views.

Just a couple of days ago, his press secretary excluded the L.A. Times, the New York Times and CNN from attending a press briefing. These agencies were being punished for making public embarrassing allegations, about top Trump officials that were leaked from inside the FBI.

So rather than punishing the leakers who work for the Trump administration, the news agencies who carried the news about the truth were prevented from participating, i.e., asking questions, of the already-embattled administration.

What perplexes me most is that conservative commentators, rather than being up in arms about this behavior which clearly is aimed at “taking away our freedoms,” are silent.

Freedom of speech and the press should be considered by the right and the conservative camp to be just as crucial to our democracy as the right to bear arms, freedom of religion, and the right to vote.

Dictatorships and Communist regimes thrive when they effectively “control the message,” control information, and shape the views of the governed, and do so without shame or regret.

President Baby-Bully Trump – thin-skinned and hot-tempered – is proudly doing the same.

Any administration that attempts to control the news by eroding access of press organizations that report unfavorably violates the tone, intent and specific rights as defined in our Constitution.

This president is going to find the courts will deem it necessary to put our democracy back on track and take a more active role in restoring the balance of powers.

Of course, Trump will gripe and moan about being told what to do by the judicial branch. But in the end I hope he and his administration will come to realize that as president he works for us and that we and the press do not work for him.

Jonathan Kraut directs private investigations and private security firms, is a published author, Democratic Party activist, and SCV Interfaith Council member. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someonePrint this pageShare on RedditShare on Google+
Comments
By commenting, you agree to our terms and conditions.
  • Ron Bischof

    Mr. Kraut, I perused your column and note you failed to make the case where the Federal Government is infringing on the NYT, LAT and CNN First Amendment recognized free speech rights.

    These organizations had access to the pool report that was common practice in the prior administration and were operating without interruption with their broadcasts and publication the following day.

    If you or anyone is unclear, this WSJ article lays the “controversy” out neatly:

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-and-the-media-1488223333?mg=id-wsj

  • Gil Mertz

    The only thing more disingenuous than a left-wing Democrat whining about the media, is one that pretends to be outraged that a president is violating the U.S. Constitution. Where were these guys the last eight years? Their selective outrage is entirely dependent on if there is a (R) or a (D) next to the politician’s name. Damn integrity, it’s all politics all the time with these guys.

  • Gil Mertz

    “””Our founding fathers understood that controlling the press means controlling and manipulating information”””

    Would that include how the media was proven to be in collusion with the Clinton campaign during the election because I didn’t see your column about that one when Wiki-leaks released the humiliating emails from the DNC. I also must have missed your column about how ex-president Obama consistently condemned and shut out Fox News.

    “””These agencies were being punished for making public embarrassing allegations”””

    Which is what the mainstream media has degraded into. Their “news” stories are nothing but unsourced and unproven “allegations” designed only to embarrass President Trump. These corrupt outfits are being turned away for the exact same reasons the National Enquirer is not invited to White House briefings.

  • Brian Baker

    Utter nonsense, Kraut. Hypocritical nonsense, at that.

    Where was your umbrage when your ObaMessiah was busy banning Fox News from access (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/us/politics/23fox.html)? Where was your outrage when the Hildebeast was herding the press around behind rope lines during her campaign, and in fact wasn’t “available” for press interviews for months (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-campaign-press-access_us_56bce1c8e4b08ffac1245666)?

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmm…?

    Further, just as a matter of practicality, access has to be limited. Or are you trying to say that ANY news organization MUST be granted access or the First Amendment is in jeopardy? So, if The Signal and the Long Beach Press-Telegram and the Daily News and every other local newspaper in the country — and I’m sure there are literally hundreds of them as there are about 100 of them just here in California (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_newspapers_in_California) — sends a reporter to the White House, they MUST be granted access or the Free Press is doomed?

    Do you even realize how utterly crazy that sounds?

  • lois eisenberg

    Jonathan, another profound opinion column.
    “It is a credit to The Signal and any news organization to allow unpopular yet thoughtfully prepared views to be presented.”
    Dictatorships and Communist regimes thrive when they effectively “control the message,” control information, and shape the views of the governed, and do so without shame or regret.”

  • lois eisenberg

    Here we go again about “Whataboutism”

  • Gary Bierend

    “It is not by accident that freedoms of speech and the press are in the First Amendment and not the Tenth”

    Are you positing that the founders felt the Tenth Amendment was less important than the First because of it’s place on the list?

    • Gil Mertz

      If this was true, then “Freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof” would be our most important right and yet Democrats pretend this one doesn’t even exist.

      • Gary Bierend

        “…the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

        Same with this.

      • charles maurice detallyrand

        Originally Madison wanted to edit the original text of the Constitution itself to reflect the changes being sought. This caused something of a fight and Madison lost. There was of course quite the argument about whether or not to even include a listing of rights and there’s a great Federalist paper about it, one of my favorites. In paper no. 84 writes,

        “I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colorable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretense for claiming that power.”

        Which is something I wish people would read. The rights listed are far from every right. It would be impossible to enumerate all of them. I also wish people wouldn’t think that rights extend only to citizens. They are not granted by our government, they are restricted under specific situations by our government — if you kill someone you lose the right to walk around freely — or they are protected by our government. Note the Bill of RIghts never mentions citizen, it refers to the people or states. Wherever our government extends its reach, be it domestically or in a foreign land, it is a requirement it abide within the construct of these limitations.

        But my rant aside, the order of the Bill of Rights exists due to where their placement existed where Madison originally sought to make his edits to the text itself. So if it was an edit that would have fallen in an earlier Article or Section it shows up earlier in the list.

        • Gil Mertz

          Thus, your point is?

          • charles maurice detallyrand

            Ok well I guess you knew about Madison’s edits and how those developed into the specific order of the Bill of Rights we see today.

  • Where’s the abridging law made by Congress? Always interesting to hear what the Bill of Rights has come to mean to Jonathan Kraut-types. It would be pretty easy to list a dozen prominent outlets the previous President never allowed at White House press briefings.

    • Gil Mertz

      If there’s a (D) next to your name, Kraut & Co look the other way.

  • lois eisenberg

    “President Trump suggests anti-Semitic threats across U.S. are coming from within Jewish community”
    This man is evil and deranged !

  • lois eisenberg

    “trump’s continued demoralization of immigrants is about as un-American as
    one can get”

  • Gil Mertz

    Even Trump’s harshest critics loved his speech last night:

    “He became president of the United States in that moment. Period.
    That was one of the most extraordinary moments you have ever seen in
    American politics. Period. If he finds a way to do that over and
    over again, he’s going to be there for eight years.”

    Van Jones. CNN

    ” I thought it was a
    winner politically. I think it’s probably the reason he was elected in
    Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio. It is winning the ticket.”

    Chris Matthews, MSNBC

    A snap poll by CNN confirmed the critics’ observations.

    78% of those who watched President Trump’s address said they
    had a “positive” reaction to it, with 57% saying they had a “very
    positive” reaction.

    69% said Trump’s policies would move the country in the right direction.

    63% said Trump has the right priorities for the country.

    69% said the president’s address made them feel “more optimistic” about the future of the country.

    • Ron Bischof

      To qualify my following comment, I’m stipulating that I haven’t been a fan of President Trump’s oratory, rhetorical style or demeanor. I found him barely intelligible in the debates with Hillary Clinton.

      However, he gave a good speech in his address to Congress last night. Refreshingly, he was… Presidential. I hope he continues at this level.

      If he does, that’s bound to confound critics.

      • Gil Mertz

        I was delighted that Trump didn’t take the bait at the Oscars by responding with some stupid tweets. And I was hoping he wouldn’t step on his amazing speech last night with an all night tweet-fest. Trump is a smart guy. I’m hoping he can see how people respond when he acts presidential vs the self-forced errors he brings on himself with tweets or statements. If he can stay out of his own way, he will succeed. Bigly.

        And thanks for the Sienfeld video. Priceless!

  • lois eisenberg

    “Donald provided almost no clarity about how he hopes to fulfill the promises that
    he made in his campaign”

  • Gil Mertz

    The day after Trump’s speech the stock market cleared 21,000 for the first time in American history! Though this is great news for Americans, the Democrats are hating it. How it must suck to be a Democrat these days.

  • Gary Bierend

    I’m trying to figure out why the author thinks Freedom Of The Press is supposed to guarantee freedom of access.

    • Ron Bischof

      Mr. Kraut knows the difference. It’s just his politics required conflating press freedom and access.