What Freedom of the Press means and what people believe it means are two different things, and unfortunately for us the Founding Fathers were victims of a press run amok just as we are today.
Let’s start with what people believe it means and what it should mean which are the same. A press where news is real. Meaning the events actually happened. The event is NOT innuendo, speculation or rumor (even if so stated in the report). There are eyewitnesses, video, audio or written FACTS (by the accused) that have been verified by two people (a standard suggested both in Babylonian law and the Bible) not directly doing the accusing or in the press. It is fair and balanced meaning both sides viewpoints are reported in a way so as not to intentionally skew public perception.
Such reporting insures healthy public discussion of social issues, exposes public government and private company corruption, informs the public of how good or bad politicians are doing their jobs, as well as public employees, schools, police, the courts, companies doing business with them and things both public and private affecting the public health and safety.
If only that were so. But abuse of press freedom started with one of the Founding Fathers himself, Paul Revere ! He was a Boston printer and put out many leaflets about British corruption and abuses, even murder that stoked the fires of revolution. Unfortunately the vast majority have been proven by historians to have never happened ! Of course the British did things that didn’t help themselves. But while they weren’t invited to many parties (especially the Boston Tea one) the British were no occupying force. The majority of colonist had no problem with the British and so rumor and lies had to be printed to turn public opinion against the British ! And most of the Founding Fathers, at least before the war, had no idea Paul was making it all up.
Throughout our history (space not permitting you’ll have to Google these yourself) elements of the press wishing to see certain outcomes and at times aided by politicians have reported known lies that turned public opinion and gotten us into wars. Press half truths & lies helped start most of the Indian wars, the Spanish-American and Mexican-American wars as well as got us into the Vietnam war after the French sensibly left. Fortunately truthful reporting also got us out of that war.
But last year marked a new low for the press in this country and around the world that keeps snowballing. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for anyone for President despite my belief it is a sacred duty to vote. And while there have been many theories for Clinton’s loss it actually is quite simply. The press alone caused it by relentless attacks against Trump mostly lies, half truths, skewed reporting of events and digging up things from 40yrs ago when this country was different. The result was, what was true was overshadowed by the great American underdog image the press made of Trump and Americans just LOVE an underdog!
Currently the press, with Trump’s help, keeps alive what they admit each time they report are unsubstantiated “facts” (some of the alternative facts Ms. Conway referred to) about supposed ties to Russia by Trump. Despite repeated statements from both Dems and Reps on Senate committees that there exists no proof only rumor. Just today, Sunday, Democratic Sen. Chris Coons stated on TV he knows of no evidence of inappropriate communications between the Russians and Trump’s team. And so the Underdog image remains.
If the press was what it should be Trump would never have been elected, nor would Clinton have been and for the first time in over a 100 years a minor party candidate would be President.
For the future of our country I ask everyone to hold the press accountable to report only unbiased truth! I firmly believe that is what the Founding Fathers meant by Freedom of the press, not a freedom to run amok with their own political and social agendas !