The First Amendment: the Freedom of the Press, not the Freedom to Oppress

The most disturbing development of the 21st century has been the deterioration of the legacy news media as reliable sources of information.  The sudden sprouting of the term ‘Fake News’ and the way it has caught hold of the common parlance when the legacy media is discussed generally stirs controversy as people try to label different pieces of information as Fake News.  The legacy media would have you believe all stories that don’t come from one of their reputable organizations or a politically aligned site is Fake News, and they preach the dangers of this Fake News every chance they get. This does seemingly little to dissuade consumers, as now a majority of the US population believes most of what the legacy media themselves spit out is fake news.

The backlash of the legacy media and their affiliates for this shifting opinion against them is swift and chilling.  Social media platforms like facebook are now preparing to fight back against ‘misinformation’, and seemingly arbitrarily will side with the legacy media in censoring ‘misinformation’ which goes against the news media preferred narrative. In addition, critics of the legacy media are being silenced, such as through the #CNNBlackmail twitter campaign after CNN decided to pursue, investigate, and locate someone who made a joke at their expense.  They do this, they claim, to fight for the freedom of the press as ingrained in the first amendment.

However, it is important to note something that the legacy news will NEVER tell you; the freedom of the press as it was written was never meant to apply to only the news media as a whole.  Despite journalists and reporters having taken up the title of ‘the Press’, the press, as originally defined in the constitution, is most simply described as the methods by which thoughts and opinions can be transferred other than by speech. After all, besides by speaking, when the constitution was first written, the press was referring to the printing press, which is how information and ideas were mass produced in writing.

It should be noted that yes, the legacy media has every right to print whatever information or opinions they want.  What they do not have the right to do under the freedom of the press, however, is to declare themselves as having a monopoly on the freedom of the press as though it only applies to them, something they have tried to assert such as when CNN infamously declared that only it could read and report on the DNC emails that had been leaked to Wikileaks. “Remember, its illegal to possess stolen documents.  Its different for the media.  So everything you’re learning about this, you’re learning from us.”  This was the day that the intentions of the legacy media were laid bare, either by very poor writing displayed on a teleprompter or a freudian slip while ad-libbing.  What was seen was the legacy media’s attempt to again monopolize the information and the spread of this information, and hogging the privileges of the freedom of the press all for themselves, the self-appointed press.

“It is so difficult to draw a clear line of separation between the abuse and the wholesome use of the press, that as yet we have found it better to trust the public judgment, rather than the magistrate, with the discrimination between truth and falsehood. And hitherto the public judgment has performed that office with wonderful correctness.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. Pictet, 1803.  To hear Thomas Jefferson say it, it is up to the people as a whole to determine the truthfulness of what it is they read from the printing press.  The populace has judged the legacy media to be false, and every time the President decries ‘Fake News’ or applies a catchy label such as the failing New York Times to a media organization the peoples’ cheers and the medias’ wails are a good additional indicator of which way the wind of public opinion is blowing.

So, how does all this apply to you as someone interested in the news?  Simple; you’re able to write, just like I’m writing here.  You’re able to speak on youtube channels and on twitter periscopes.  You can make posts on the internet.  You could even send in articles for this blog that you write yourself for publication (unpaid of course.  It’s a labor of love for me and my associates here, too, to propagate knowledge and opinions, no more no less).  Deny the legacy media who could try to be the only ones the freedom of the press applies to and use the ‘press’ yourself.  Write and speak and create content, and defy any attempt to stop you.  If its real, if its fake, the public as a whole can decide that for themselves.  Your only job is to put your opinions and the information you have gathered out there for it to be disseminated and viewed.  Don’t let the legacy media or any other organizations that would claim sole proprietorship over the freedom of the press bully you into not putting your thoughts to words and sharing them.

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