Say Goodbye to Freedom of Speech

By Paul Maxwell Report Archives
Cover image for  article: Say Goodbye to Freedom of Speech

If you happen to believe in the United States Constitution, here's something you really need to read: At a rally in Milwaukee on the evening of July 27, "private security, in tandem with local Milwaukee law enforcement, detained and patted down Washington Post reporter Jose DelReal while searching for his cellphone at a public event featuring GOP vice presidential candidate Mike Pence. DelReal, who had already been denied entry with the press, was then also prohibited from attending as a member of the public" when he refused to surrender his laptop and cellphone. That's as reported by one of Verizon's many content holdings, The Huffington Post. It was also noted by The Washington Post and several other media outlets.

So, what's happening here?

Well, remember that constitutional protection called freedom of speech?  It doesn't mean much without a free press. I reflected on the sad state of "free" speech in a blog written for MediaVillage the week of June 13. Namely: "The wagons are circling … 'hate speech' and blasphemy laws are restricting freedom of speech here and around the world."  We've written and lamented often about killings, restrictions, bannings and other forms of censorship by both official government actions and unofficial acquiescence of control of the press and individuals.    

"Even here in the U.S., it is being chipped away …"

This is not something I want to be right about. But consider DelReal's exclusion from a Mike Pence rally. Of course, he came representing The Washington Post, one of the many publications (think Politico, BuzzFeed, The Daily Beast, Univision, The Huffington Post,etc.) currently banned from the press box by Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.

Clearly this is something new in American politics.  As are Trump's budding bromances with the ever more authoritarian Vladimir Putin of Russia and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

Up until last Wednesday, reporters could just walk into political events. Thanks to the self-proclaimed "good brain" of Donald J. Trump that's no longer true. In fact, on the day that DelReal was declared persona non grata at a Pence event, The New York Times reported that Turkey's government had closed down more than a 100 media outlets including "45 newspapers, three news agencies, 16 television channels, 15 magazines and 29 publishers …"

Even the European Union bureaucrats noticed that. They called it "troubling."

Also on the same day in another story in the Times came this troubling news, "A Chinese court has sentenced an American citizen to more than five years in prison for selling magazines about Chinese politics …"

We in media need to pay a little more attention to these moves. Really. Before any sign of dissent gets moved out altogether.

To be fair, I noticed Politico reported that, in a discussion with Mike Pence, he said this about the ban and the Donald: "We're going to have those conversations internally and I fully expect in the next 100 days we're going to continue to be available to the media, whether they're fair or unfair."  We'll see.  Seems he said that while the Donald was tweeting more insults about the media.

Random Notes

So, NBC did a deal with Facebook to distribute a bit of the Rio Olympics … to cut down on Facebook Live streaming by just anyone?

That's just one more event proving that the "cable" eco-system is much bigger than anyone can imagine.  Cable built the first deployed high speed Internet pipes.  Classic cable companies aren't the only pipe-purveyors anymore.  We've got telos, satellites and Googlers in the mix today. They all move content. Comcast has NBCU.  Verizon has AOL and, soon, what's left of the Yahoo (no more "!") operation.

So the next questions are: Which studio and/or network will Charter buy? and What's taking AT&T so long to do something similar?

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