Thursday, February 03, 2005

Missing the Point of a Free Press

Here's an ominous trend: Networks are rejecting paid issue advertisements because they are too political or too controversial. Some recent examples:
The networks reject these ads because they are deemed to be upsetting to those who disagree with the political views expressed in the ads. The irony here is that even according to people with the narrowest views of freedom of the press, political speech especially requires free expression:
The First Amendment, understood in this light, is not so much a matter of protecting rights as ensuring sound public judgment through the process of public deliberation. The true meaning of the law should therefore be determined, and limited, by matters having to do with the political process (broadly defined). Political speech should be encouraged since it is essential to the functioning of democracy, while non-political speech should be less fully protected when it conflicts with other interests and rights, such as privacy.
The media, in its cowardice, is failing to fulfill its most important role in a free society.


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