The idea of a free press as the fourth estate of government has long been an enshrined belief in America. The Founding Fathers of America detailed the need of a free press uncensored by the government for a democratic republic to work in the Federalist Papers.
Along with a free press goes the idea of freedom of speech. I am never sure how many people realize freedom of thought is dependent on free speech. these are both things politicians want to control.
Now the Democrat Senator from California Diane Feinstein, and other Democrats in the Senate, are pushing to give the government the right to decide how a new ‘media shield law’ shall be applied and to select who is and is not a ‘reporter.’
The Media Shield Law is supposed to protect journalists/reporters from having to reveal sources. We already have international law to do that. Many countries have additional laws to add to source protection. An excellent piece on Protection of Sources can be found in the Wikipedia. In the Americas there is the Inter-American Commision on Human Rights that outlines the ideal rights.
Senator Feinstein added an amendment ALB-13767 to basically take the teeth out of the bill which has, of course, an exclusion for national security. But, which goes on to try and allow the government to define who is and is not a journalist/reporter. Basically they get to decide who has complete rights to free speech and who doesn’t. See and itemization of the problems in the Press Freedom Fondation’s Senate’s Broadened Definition of Journalist Is an Improvement, but Still Not Enough.
The exception for national security has problems. Free Flow of Information Act is designed to help journalists/reporters, unless there is a national security interest. We saw how that exception was recently abused by the Department of Justice, which secretly seized the records from Associated Press phone lines and the emails of Fox News reporter James Rosen, who the DOJ falsely deemed an “an aider and abettor and/or co-conspirator” in a criminal leak of State Department records to gain a court order.
Basically the Constitutional question in the US, as Sen. Cornyn (R-TX) phrased it, is engaging in “licensing of legitimate media.” Meaning basically the government gets to decide who has protected speech.
If you are not politically active and paying attention, you are helping those taking our freedom away. The current Democrat controlled Senate is taking power they do not have a right to and reducing our freedom. Complain to your Senators, especially liberals. Otherwise, your freedom in this regard is going to be in the hands of a republican controlled House of Representatives.