“Free Flow of Information Act” Targets Independent Journalism 15

The fact that the US Senate is now defining what a journalist actually is sets a dangerous precedent threatening the present marketplace of ideas that in recent history has been greatly expanded by the internet.

According to the text of an amendment sponsored by Senators Diane Feinstein and Dick Durbin to the proposed “Free Flow of Information Act” (PDF) that passed the Senate Judiciary Committee on September 12, only salaried journalists will be given the free press protections guaranteed to all US citizens by the Constitution.

Under such a law presumably only the news reporters and analysts employed by moderate-to-substantial revenue-generating news entities are regarded as “legitimate” journalists. This is because the Feinstein-Durbin amendment’s wording is especially vague on exactly what type of news organization the writer needs to be affiliated with to be able to comment and report freely.

The major concern with this move is twofold. First, it is fundamentally unconstitutional. The First Amendment unambiguously states that

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.

If such legislation achieves passage free speech will be diminished as thousands of independent journalists conducting valid research into a variety of malfeasance and corruption by major institutions may be open to government subpoenas and legal action by those they investigate and report on. Further, such a law paves the way for Congress to formally license journalists, which is close to happening in the United Kingdom.

Secondly, this measure involves more than an oblique targeting of alternative news media and the extremely important work they do. As their coverage and analysis of incidents such as the Boston Marathon bombings and the unfolding Syrian crisis suggest, independent news websites have played significant roles in helping the public to better comprehend the underlying political dynamics and import of such events.

With this Constitutional framework in mind, acts of journalism indeed extend to all forms of political speech, for humans are by their very nature political beings. The ability to accurately observe our world and its many confusing facets can only be arrived at through an often discordant multitude of voices, information, and perspectives that comprise a free marketplace of ideas.

Notes

Boehm, Eric. “Feinstein Wants to Limit Who Can Be a Journalist,” Watchdog.org, August 12, 2013.

Huff, Ethan A. “Diane Feinstein is Trying to Eliminate Protections for Alternative Media with Amended ‘Free Flow of Information Act,’” NaturalNews.com, September 14, 2013.

-JFT

Republished at ActivistPost on September 17, 2013.

About these ads

15 comments

  1. “Free Flow of Information Act”? What a gift Congress has for naming laws. The law always has the opposite effect of the name. Kind of like the “Patriot Act” and how it protects us Patriots, and the “Affordable Care Act” that no one can figure out how to pay for. I hope they don’t pass a “Lets get America back to work Act”. Uh oh, they already did, didn’t they?

    • “The law always has the opposite effect of the name.” Oh, that is so true. As sad as it is, I can’t stop laughing.

      Everything they say and do illogical and opposite. And they call us STUPID. They can’t even balance a checkbook.

      • Yes, Free Flow of Filtered Information Only Allowed thought licensed hacks and puppets. And, Gun Control is in reality Gun Confiscation but just soft pedaling it.

  2. People in Callifornia…can you please recall Diane Feinstein? She has outlved her usefulness as a humanoid robot and is getting really silly.

    Diane, you are a multimillionaire. If you feel so insecure, leave the country for one of your off-shore tax shelters–hopefully in the far South Pacific.

  3. The single overriding point that must be understood by all Americans is that people like Feinstein et al work tirelessly to undermine freedoms we have taken for granted for generations. There is no way to misunderstand what is being attempted here. There sole desire is to eliminate channels of thoughtful and courageous criticism–such as Dr Tracy offers–that may expose these corrupt hacks for what they really are.

    If the Constitution has any meaning at all, it is clear that these attempts are nothing short of treason. I pray that, at some point, we will have enough real patriots remaining to see that those who betray the ideals this country was founded on receive the punishment that our Founders prescribed for such acts. I will rejoice on that day.

  4. So you set up an LLC and have it “pay” you a token salary. How your LLC gets its revenue to pay you a token salary is another story. But when it comes to money manipulation and avoiding taxes, lots of options exist.

    This whole legislation is rather — coincidental. I mean, the great news organizations of the world were on a stark decline for over 40 years, what with the sheeple first migrating from reading newsprint to seeing broadcast news, and then from watching news to a whole spectrum of mindless entertainment that cable — and then the internet — could offer.

    The news organizations laid people off. Doonesbury has been doing a great job of mocking this with its character Rick, who was laid off and now is a blogger for no money.

    So much internet news is “echo chamber” re-posting of the same news article, or is thoughtful and independent blogging on the subject, but for very little financial rewards, the competition is so great.

    What it boils down to is that if you are not employed by a news organization whose control can be traced back to one of the five big owning entities (and who manipulate messages as a fourth arm of government), then you aren’t protected.

    And thus falleth the mighty nation.

    //

  5. After the Licensed Journalists, they will create a False News prohibition. We will be made to pay heed only to the licensed journalists and everyone else who has anything to say will be breaking the law by peddling “false news.”

  6. Pingback: First Ammendment under attack! - Specificlist

  7. Pingback: Orwell would be proud | Pense-bête

  8. Pingback: “Bits & Pieces – Obama & America’s Decline” Sept. 19th, 2013 | jeff-goodall

  9. “We seek a Free Flow of Information…….a nation that is afraid to let the people judge the truth and falsehood in an open market – is a nation afraid of its people.”
    President John F. Kennedy – February 1962

Comments are closed.