Tuesday, July 3, 2012
In Obama’s America, A Somewhat Less-Free Press
By Austin Hill
Campaign operatives masquerading as media “fact checkers.”
A President who uses the power of the Executive Branch to shutdown blogs.
Do American journalists care?
The left-leaning sensibilities of America’s dominant journalist culture are well established. But what isn’t so well established is how comfortable American journalists are with the undermining of their own craft, by a Democrat President named Barack Obama.
Had media professionals been more interested in facts back in 2008, rather than merely advancing the narrowly defined agenda of “diversity” and ushering in America’s first Black President, there may have been concern about Barack Obama and the company he keeps. Now after nearly three and a half years of “change,” it remains to be seen if the journalists among us remain committed to the agenda.
On May 26th of this year, ABC News Senior Correspondent Jake Tapper correctly noted that the Obama re-election campaign’s media “truth team” operation is “muddying the waters” of information about the President. The “truth team,” as Tapper pointed out, is obviously pushing a campaign agenda, and is anything but an objective “fact checking” service despite how they portray themselves.
Then on June 1st, USA Today reporter (and actual “fact checker’) Eugene Kiely noted that the Obama “truth team” was actually wrong about some claims made against Thomas O’Malley, an oil refinery owner and Republican Party donor. One can imagine that Kiely may have paid a professional price for daring to write such a thing, but facts are facts – Kiely called it as he saw it.
Yet American journalists may have seen this Obama “win at all costs” agenda coming, had they been willing to ask questions of the President. In 2009, for example, Cass Sunstein, an American legal scholar and Harvard Law Professor, was appointed by President Obama to head up the “White House Office Of Information and Regulatory Affairs.” His title is sufficiently broad and ambiguous, but throughout his tenure in the Administration he has wielded plenty of power. And had journalists been the least bit curious about Sunstein’s 2009 book “On Rumors: How Falsehoods Spread, Why We Believe Them, What Can Be Done,” they may have become a bit concerned about their “freedom of speech,” and the free flow of information, generally.
You owe it to yourself to do an online search, and read about Mr. Sunstein and the ideas that he advances in his book. In particular, many of the thoughts that Mr. Sunstein expresses about the internet seem consistent with present-day behavior of both the Obama Administration, and the Obama re-election campaign.
Perhaps most disturbing is Mr. Sunstein’s vision for the future of web content, as he argues for a so-called “notice and take down” law. Under this provision, those who operate websites - - The Washington Post, radio stations, private bloggers, and perhaps even you, yourself -we would all be required “take down falsehoods upon notice” from the U.S. government.
And not only would the original content of websites be scrutinized by the government for “falsehoods,” website operators would also be held responsible for the content of “posts” created by the website’s visitors and readers. At first blush it may seem that, for a web operator to be held accountable for content generated by “posters,” is completely untenable. But that may very well be Mr. Sunstein’s goal - - to create an untenable situation for website operators - given his assertion that imposing “a ‘chilling effect’ on those who would spread destructive falsehoods can be an excellent idea..”
But who shall determine what, exactly, is “true” and “false?” Mr. Sunstein laments the supposed “lie” that emerged during the 2008 presidential race, that “Barack Obama pals around with terrorists.” Despite the fact that a friendship between Obama and known domestic terrorist William Ayers was something that both men acknowledged, Sunstein alludes to the notion that this was one of those “destructive falsehoods” of the sort that needs to be policed.
Less than a year ago on my daily radio talk show, a caller to my program observed that “there’s no way this (Mr. Sunstein’s proposals) could be legal, or constitutional..” Thoughtful Americans of all sorts will immediately view this situation through the lenses of constitutionally guaranteed rights.
But we should all realize by now that issues of “legality” don’t matter so much with the Obama Administration. Likewise, as Chief Justice John Roberts noted in the Supreme Court’s ruling over Obamacare, it is NOT the role of the court to save us from bad policies made by legislators.
Thus it appears now that the Obama Administration and the Obama re-election campaign may be ushering-in an era of harassment for website operators, even without a “notice and take down” law. Indeed, a blogger in Pennsylvania seems to have fallen prey to Obama’s intended chilling effect, as Douglas Hagmann, C.E.O. of Hagmann Investigative Services (a private investigation firm) had his web host, GoDaddy.Com, tell him that the Obama Administration ordered his website to be shut down. Hagmann apparently posted blog content that was critical of President Obama, so the Administration scared GoDaddy.Com in to shutting the blog down.
And who do you suppose cared to report this news? NewsMax.Com, InfoWars.Com, and CanadaFreePress.Com. The mainstream media ignored it. Apparently the priorities of most American journalists are still to re-elect our most “diverse” President, even as “free speech” takes a pounding.
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