STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
Congress Mulls Licensing Speech?
By Staff News & Analysis - March 24, 2014

Schumer: Senate has votes for media shield law … A supporter of a bill to protect reporters and the news media from having to reveal confidential sources said Friday the measure has the backing of the Obama administration and the support of enough senators to move ahead this year. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, spoke optimistically about prospects for the measure, identifying five Republicans who would join with Democrats and independents on a bill that he said would address a constitutional oversight. While the first amendment protects freedom of the press, "there is no first amendment right for gathering information," Schumer said at The New York Times' Sources and Secrets Conference on the press, government and national security. – AP

Dominant Social Theme: Some free speech is supposed to be more protected than others.

Free-Market Analysis: If it weren't tough enough to distinguish fact from propaganda, the US government is surely getting ready to hand out licenses to "approved" reporting facilities … sooner or later anyway.

Of course, that's not how it's being reported by these same facilities. They're explaining that it is a "bill" that will address "gathering information." See the above excerpt from the AP for Schumer's eloquent perspective.

The US Constitution – despite its many apparent loopholes – flatly ascertains what the Congress can do to restrict free speech: Nothing. But that particular perspective was contradicted long ago by a series of laws aimed at legislating against "commercial speech" and even against speech that metaphorically shouted "fire" in a crowded cinema.

Here's the US Constitution:

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.

That seems clear. But not to the current crop of legislators and not, of course, to the US judicial system that almost immediately after the writing of the Constitution declared that only the nation's top justices could interpret what the Constitution meant.

And apparently "Congress shall make no law" allows for laws against pornography, the creation of "free speech zones" and the almost limitless regulatory directives aimed at "commercial speech" – whatever that is.

And now Congress, and presumably later the Supreme Court, takes aim at separating "real journalists" from the rest. This is not immediately a license, but it is certainly a prelude to one.

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Here's more:

The bill was revived last year after the disclosure that the Justice Department had secretly subpoenaed almost two months' worth of telephone records for 21 phone lines used by reporters and editors for The Associated Press and secretly used a search warrant to obtain some emails of a Fox News journalist.

The Justice Department took the actions in looking into leaks of classified information to the news organizations. The AP received no advance warning of the subpoena. Schumer discussed the bill's provisions and how, if it became law, it might affect journalist Glenn Greenwald, who reported on National Security Agency's secret surveillance based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

"It's probably not enough protections to (cover) him, but it's better than current law," Schumer said. The bill's protections would apply to a "covered journalist," defined as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information.

The individual would have to have been employed for one year within the last 20 or three months within the last five years. It would apply to student journalists or someone with a considerable amount of freelance work in the last five years.

A federal judge also would have the discretion to declare an individual a "covered journalist" who would be granted the privileges of the law. The bill also says that information is only privileged if it is disseminated by a news medium, described as "newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, news agency, news website, mobile application or other news or information service (whether distributed digitally or otherwise); news program, magazine or other periodical, whether in print, electronic or other format; or thorough television or radio broadcast … or motion picture for public showing."

While the definition covers traditional and online media, it draws the line at posts on Twitter, blogs or other social media websites by non-journalists. The overall bill would protect reporters and news media organizations from being required to reveal the identities of confidential sources, but it does not grant an absolute privilege to journalists.

… In the AP story that triggered one of the leak probes, the news organization reported that U.S. intelligence had learned that al-Qaida's Yemen branch hoped to launch a spectacular attack using a new, nearly undetectable bomb aboard a U.S.-bound airliner around the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.

This last paragraph is humorous in a sense – if one subscribes to the perfectly reasonable idea that bin Laden died over a decade ago. There is at least one formal – Fox – report of his death. And according to a David Frost [BBC] interview with Benazir Bhutto – "Omar Saeed Sheikh [was] the man who murdered Osama bin Laden."

One would think, given such high-profile reports, that the mainstream media might occasionally mention the doubts about bin Laden's death. But … no.

There is no discussion, either, about why the US federal government has never released photos of a dead bin Laden, or why there has been no DNA evidence released. There has been no discussion of eyewitness accounts, as well, that claim the US government's story about bin Laden's death cannot possibly be accurate.

There has been not one mainstream account that points out the fallacious reporting surrounding bin Laden's "death." The only real reporting has been done by alternative media, which bills like Schumer's essentially … or eventually … seek to legislate out of existence.

The US media is not just seemingly useless; it is an active propaganda mechanism intended to reinforce globalist memes. It is internationalism that modern reporting supports, and all the accoutrements thereof, the various divide-and-conquer mechanisms that expand the globalist enterprise.

Schumer tries to cast his legislation as clarifying and protecting the "rights" of reporters. But government is virtually incapable of "protecting" rights.

After Thoughts

As always, government protects some rights at the expense of others. In this case, the alternative media will no doubt suffer. Is that the point?

Posted in STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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