You Keep Saying “First Amendment.” I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

Heard At Family Worship This Morning
February 17, 2017
Missionary Work
February 17, 2017

You Keep Saying “First Amendment.” I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means.

Yesterday at the White House circus press briefing, this exchange took place:

No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.

No, there’s too much to sum up.  Let’s focus on one particular question from Jim Acosta of CNN.

ACOSTA: Aren’t you concerned, sir, that you are undermining the people’s faith in the First Amendment, freedom of the press, the press in country, when you call stories you don’t like fake news? Why not just say it’s a story I don’t like?

You can read the whole thing here.  It’s worth the read, simply for the amusement factor.

Now I like Acosta, but it’s just these sorts of questions that convince me that you need to pass a basic IQ test to be admitted as part of the White House press pool.  Or any press pool.  Or even the sewing club of your choice.

As Bill Clinton said about his latest herpes test: let me be clear.  It is not the President’s job to protect the press’s fragile reputation, or even to approve or disapprove of any particular news stories.  To invoke the First Amendment in this context is ludicrous.  The First Amendment protects the press from Trump sending the FBI or the Marshals or the Army over to the offices of CNN or the New York Times and shutting them down—or worse—for broadcasting unflattering news, fake or not.  The job of the federal government is to protect the press’s ability to report—not their credibility.  People are not losing faith in the First Amendment or freedom of the press, they are losing faith in the journalistic integrity and honesty of the press.  That’s a very different thing.  If CNN is having a hard time with people’s faith in their reporting, then they need to take a long, hard look at their own house, and figure out how to start acting like a credible news outlet again.

The networks aren’t helping themselves in this regard.  There can be no real argument among rational adults that there are television networks that think Trump is the savior (Fox News, generally), and others that think that Trump is the Anti-Christ (ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CNN, CBS, The Home Shopping Network, HGTV, and pretty much everyone else).  Exhibit A: Yesterday I received this Breaking News Alert from Fox:

Retired Navy Vice Admiral Robert Harward has turned down President Trump’s offer to succeed Michael Flynn as national security adviser due to family reasons, sources tell Fox News.

Here’s the Breaking News Alert from CNN on the same issue:
Retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward has turned down President Donald Trump’s offer to replace the fired Michael Flynn as national security adviser, sources say.  A friend of Harward’s said he was reluctant to take the job because the White House seems so chaotic.

See what I mean?  Maybe CNN and Fox had different sources, saying different things.  That’s possible.  But maybe . . . just maybe . . . both news outlets are interpreting and reporting the news through the lens of their own ideological leanings.  Shocking, I know, but hey, it’s just a theory.  A film theory!

Having said all that, and admitting to more than a little schadenfreude at seeing a sitting president take the press to task for ideological reporting, I don’t think it’s a wise use of time or credibility for Trump to be engaging in this sort of playground blustering with the press to determine who’s . . . uh . . . bike is bigger.  Should he call out and correct inaccurate reporting?  Absolutely.  Should he make it personal?  Nope.  I would hope he has better things to do with his time.

Like finding another National Security Advisor.  I’m available.

Scott Gosnell founded Pros and Cons in 2003. He also has a day job as a practicing attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, which explains his complete irresponsibility with regards to his blogging schedule. In a former life he worked in several churches as a youth minister, where he was forced to do unspeakable things like chew ABC gum (Already Been Chewed), bob for liver (uncooked), and participate in condiment wrestling. Hey, would you look at that – I guess they are speakable. In addition to the practice of law, Scott is a certified law enforcement officer with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and the Alabama Historical Ironworks Commission, and a tactical firearms instructor. Scott and his wife, Donna, have three children, Caleb, Hannah Beth, and Austin. He also has a dog named Sierra and a cell phone named Curtis.

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