The First Amendment: rest in peace

To President Trump, the First Amendment is just an annoyance. If it were up to him, he would control everything people hear, read and say.

Some examples:

U.S. President Donald Trump welcomed a decision by the National Football League to fine teams if players on the field refuse to stand for the national anthem, saying in an interview broadcast on Thursday that if they do not want to stand, perhaps they should not be in the United States.

This is nuts, pure and simple. These players, as Americans, have every right to protest the injustices against blacks and other minorities in a peaceful manner. You can’t get more peaceful then taking a knee and being quiet. The ruling by the NFL to fine these players, which Trump supports, will, with any luck, be overturned in a courtroom.

And to say they don’t belong in this country goes against everything the founding fathers believed in and fought for. They belong here as much as any American. Suggesting someone be removed from the country for expressing an opinion is not what it takes to make America great again. It’s what will make America a dictatorship.

Here’s what George Washington had to say about the situation:

If men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter, which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.

Gotta wonder, though, if Trump would be so upset if it were mainly white people taking a knee.

WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency barred The Associated Press and CNN from a national summit on harmful water contaminants on Tuesday — and guards forcibly shoved a female reporter out of the building.

The EPA blocked the media organizations, along with the environmental-focused E&E News, from attending the meeting in Washington, convened by EPA chief Scott Pruitt.

The First Amendment was put in place to ensure the people’s right to know what its government and elected officials are doing. The United States is not supposed to operate under a veil of secrecy. While the phrase, “the people’s right to know” may have become a cliche, it is one of the cornerstones of our democracy.

By barring two of the largest news-gathering organizations in the country, CNN and the Associated Press, the Trump administration basically said “we will conduct whatever business we want in private, the public be damned.

Think about how dangerous this is. Do we really want a government that keeps secrets from its own people…the voters who put them in office? And when it comes to something with such widespread interest as harmful water contaminants, isn’t that something we all should know about?

Reporters who weren’t allowed in were able to watch the event via a live broadcast. But that’s not good enough. Reporters must be there to ask questions and report on what they see and hear.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox told the barred organizations they were not invited and there was no space for them, but gave no indication of why they specifically were barred.

“This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event,” Wilcox told NBC News. “We were able to accommodate 10 reporters, provided a livestream for those we could not accommodate

Some media that had been permitted to attend said that there appeared to be a handful of open seats for the press in the room despite claims that there was no room left.

Because of the uproar, the afternoon session of the meeting was open to all media members.

This should never have happened and shows the disdain Trump has for the media, especially CNN.

And then there’s this:

CBS “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl has revealed a candid remark made to her by then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in 2016. Stahl told a group of fellow journalists at the Deadline Club Awards Dinner in New York City earlier this week that Mr. Trump had admitted his consistent attacks on the media were meant to “discredit” journalists so that negative stories about him would not be believed.

In his own words, he wants to discredit journalists. Can you get more anti-first amendment than that? By discrediting journalists, he must think that gives him a free pass to do whatever he wants. And if something is found out and reported, he can just badmouth the journalist, and, bam, he’s gotten away with it.

What’s really scary is that so many people believe Trump when he criticizes the media.

What Trump and all his despicables who support him have to realize is that the press is here to protect us against tyrants and dictators. How free and open is the press in Russia, do you think? Is that the kind of country we want?

And people also must remember that “the press” is not just the Washington, D.C. media. Local reporters nationwide sit for hours in long, boring city council, water board and park district meetings to keep citizens up to date on what’s happening in their communities. Is everything they report “fake news?” Of course not.

The only things that are fake in this country are our president’s qualifications.

I will end with a popular quote by Thomas Jefferson, someone Trump would have hated.

“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

Published by Mike Sturman

I am a retired journalist with nearly 30 years in the field, during which time I was a reporter and held numerous editor positions at local newspapers and a number of magazines. After I retired, I was a sub in my local school district, then did PR for that district. I hold a Bachelor's Degree in journalism, and as for my politics, that's simple: I'm a liberal Democrat. I'm married, and my wife recently retired after 25 years as a teacher. We have one daughter, who has earned her PhD and works at a UC. Through this blog, I hope to pass on some interesting thoughts and ideas, entertain with some lighthearted posts and generally quell my pandemic-induced boredom.

One thought on “The First Amendment: rest in peace

  1. The sooner he is gone the better. I hope the next administration can undo the damage. What gives me hope is thinking of how bad things have been historically… We survived civil war, world war, cold war…. But We never had such weak delusional leadership.


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