Who is Violating the First Amendment?

Who is Violating the First Amendment?

A current favorite game played by the media is to accuse the “government” of violating the First Amendment. This is at or near the peak of hypocrisy compared to what the media does. The media often slants its “news” to favor their higher paying advertisers. They do “news” stories that are nothing more than advertising (puffery). True investigative reporting often gets shorted when the “proper” political and or monetary factors come into play.

In the Sunday, May 19, 2013 edition of the Cleburne Times-Review, an editorial by the holding company (CNHI) of the Times-Review was printed. CHNI was justifiably upset about the US Justice Department’s secret seizure of the Associated Press phone records. Every US citizen and every media outlet should be concerned about the Justice Department’s breach of the First Amendment.

What is the First Amendment?

The First Amendment (Amendment I) to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights.

The Free Press Clause protects publication of information and opinions, and applies to a wide variety of media. In Near v. Minnesota (1931) and New York Times v. United States (1971), the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protected against prior restraint—pre-publication censorship—in almost all cases. The Petition Clause protects the right to petition all branches and agencies of government for action. In addition to the right of assembly guaranteed by this clause, the Court has also ruled that the Amendment implicitly protects freedom of association.

Now that we have been refreshed on what the First Amendment says, back to my editorial. The First Amendment is a two-edged sword, even though the second edge is often overlooked. The government must be held accountable to the Constitution. On the other edge, the media must be held accountable to the Constitution.

I know of many letters to the editor of the Cleburne Times-Review that were not printed because they were not in line with the political agenda of the editor or the editor feared that printing them might jeopardize the Times-Review’s revenue from its advertisers.

I have an email from the editor of the Cleburne Times-Review stating that I “might as well save your paper” because he was not going to print anything I sent him.

Until recently when I have brought issues before the City Council, the Cleburne Times-Review reporter pointedly closed his notebook and put down his pen.

It is totally hypocritical for the Cleburne Times-Review to accuse the Justice Department of violating the First Amendment while the Times-Review is violating the First Amendment itself.

Alden Nellis
603 S. Walnut
Cleburne, Texas 76033

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