Sunday, September 14, 2014

Yeah, But Should the FOX Say It?

Sometimes known as the "Fourth Estate", the press has a long history of keeping the government in "check" in its role as the ears of the people. So important a role, that it is even referenced in one of the pinnacles of our constitutional rights:

"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."

For one sentence, that statement covers a lot of ground! Unfortunately, with such a sentence, there is a lot of room for interpretation. For instance: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion" can be taken that Congress shall make no law that respects a religion, one that respects an establishment of religion (like a church building), or one that respects the establishment of a religion (like coming up with a new one, or making a state religion like "The Church of England"). What about the inverse? Can Congress make a law that disrespects one?

Also included is the abridgement of the freedom of speech or of the press. Abridgement means a shortened or condensed form, or a limiting of someone's rights. Cliff Notes are study tools that give a good idea of the first definition. The focus in the amendment is the second definition. We have the right to say what we want. However, we have laws against slander and libel. Slander deals with making false statements against someone. Libel is a false statement against someone that is published. We have freedom to say what we want, even if it offends someone. It's just that that statement cannot be false. You have the right to have an opinion. Heck, the name of this blog is "My Humble But Accurate Opinion". Opinions are views or judgments made, but not necessarily based on facts.

If I say, "The President of the United States dresses in drag and chases neighborhood children," that would be slander. If I published it, that would be libel. But if I say, "The President of the United States has policies that I think are detrimental to the well being of this country," I am giving an opinion. The first is punishable according to the law. The other is protected speech. As a blogger, I have the freedom to give my opinion. Hopefully that also means that I've given my opinion at least a little research background prior to giving it to my readers.

Can I see a show of hands from all of you that hate FOX News? Okay, how about those of you that hate MSNBC? I'm sure you all have your reasons, and I probably will agree with you on them. Here's my point: why are these types of "journalists", members of the "press", allowed to make such outrageous, may I even go far as to call them slanderous, statements and hide under the umbrella of "freedom of the press"?

As I stated above, the press was designed to keep the government in check. It has a responsibility to keep the government honest by holding them accountable to the people (you know, their constituents - a.k.a. "the voters"). But there is a major problem when the press stops reporting the news and just gives us their opinions PORTRAYED as news. There is a major problem when the press buries a story it doesn't like because it goes against their opinions or beliefs as to how the government should be doing things. There is also a major problem when the press reports things that in turn can cause detriment to our armed forces. You know: acts of treason.

What is the difference between a blogger and a journalist when both are simply giving opinions? Do bloggers fall under the same protections of the freedom of the press?

But is it the fault of the press? With the news networks being all owned by the entertainment industry, and ratings and advertising dollars the focus, is it any wonder that they act like they do?

Many are the solutions to fix this. Here's one that I think will help: change the name of the news organizations and make sure they are clear on when they are giving facts versus their opinions.

Change "FOX News" to "FOX News and Opinion".

© Emittravel 2014

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