Despite the First Amendment’s guaranteed freedom of speech and freedom of the press, there are still legal limitations on both.
There are laws against so-called “hate speech,” libel, and slander. You can’t yell “fire!” in a crowded theater. And you cannot falsely accuse someone or lie about a product.
Unless, of course, you’re an elected official. Or a major Left-wing establishment newspaper.
As Attorney General William Barr hints that there might actually be some prosecutions related to the FBI’s bogus investigation of the 2016 Trump campaign, some are suggesting similar scrutiny for the “mainstream media” that, for years, has pushed one lie after another about President Donald Trump and his administration.
But…but…freedom of the press!
Got it. But where does press freedom end and legal liability begin when you’re knowingly pushing a false narrative that is doing real harm to society, keeping Americans riled up, at each other’s throats and on the brink of societal breakdown?
Michael Goodwin, writing in the New York Post, notes:
Thankfully, the accountability fallout from the Russia misconduct has started, with Attorney General Bill Barr suggesting possible prosecutions of FBI agents and perhaps others.
But what of the media? After all, The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and the broadcast networks were spectacularly wrong in their coverage. …
Pulitzers and other journalism prizes lionized some reports that are now as discredited as the Steele dossier. Yet the news organizations still protect the secret sources who misled them and act as if they themselves did nothing wrong.
One glaring example. The Times reported last May that the FBI sent a female investigator “posing as research assistant” to spy on the Trump campaign in 2016. The woman, who called herself Azra Turk, met with George Papadopoulos in a London bar. …
The Times’ story also says Turk and another informant, Stefan Halper, “failed to glean any information of value” from several meetings with Papadopoulos, but that is not true, according to the inspector general. He says one of the FBI’s most significant “inaccuracies and omissions” was the failure to tell FISA judges that Papadopoulos repeatedly denied to Halper and Turk that the campaign was collaborating with Russia or WikiLeaks.
Did the Times reporters know about that exculpatory information, or did their FBI sources lie to them? Either way, the paper now knows its May story was wrong on key points, yet it remains uncorrected. …
Days after the 2016 election, the Times issued an apology of sorts to subscribers for failing to realize that Trump could win. “Did Donald Trump’s sheer unconventionality lead us and other news outlets to underestimate his support among American voters?” the publisher and editor wrote. …
So now it’s time for a second apology — a sincere one. And an honest inquiry into how the paper continues to get the big stories so wrong.
Again, these media outlets — every one of them committed to Trump’s defeat and removal from office — are seriously dividing our country. The shameless lies have become a domestic security issue.
It’s one thing to pontificate and rail about the president in a clearly-marked editorial; it’s another to purposely push propaganda disguised as legitimate news.
We need some press accountability. We need people to be held legally liable for knowingly publishing false, distorting information. Free press comes with the responsibility to at least try to get details correct.
That’s clearly not happening anymore in many of America’s newsrooms in the age of President Trump. Ditto for perpetually triggered Democrats who hate the president more than they love a stable, prosperous country.