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Free Speech VS Freedom of the Press
Posted by: Jon Henke on Saturday, May 17, 2008

Remember when New York Times reporters and editors went to court, even jail, a few years ago to protect their right to say things politicians thought objectionable? Freedom of the Press is a very important thing, they argued.

You people, however, can get bent, as far as the New York Times is concerned. Writing about 527's, the NYT Editorial Board says....
Since the Federal Election Commission has been rendered defunct by Congress, the hope for something better can be delivered only by the nominees themselves. Surely, a candidate for chief executive of the United States can be expected to show enough executive talent to confront and stifle his or her most out-of-control supporters.
Do you understand what the New York Times just wrote there? They want politicians to be able to "stifle" free speech.

Bear that in mind the next time those pretentious douchebags demand respect for their own freedom of the press. They don't want free speech; they want privileged speech. And they'll use their freedom of the press to regulate and criminalize your own speech.


Let me back up a moment and point out the three possible ways that a Presidential candidate could "stifle" the speech of a 527 group.

  1. They could ask them to stop. (Only a naïve fool would believe this would actually work)

  2. They could pass a law to stop them, or push for such a law. (This is clearly a problem)

  3. They could use the power of their position to, er, persuade the group to back off by threatening political retaliation. (This is just as problematic as approach #2)

The New York Times must have had one of those three approaches in mind. Which is it?
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Previous Comments to this Post 

The link doesn’t work
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
Fixed it. Thanks.
Written By: Jon Henke
Well, the NYT was standing up for free speech when it was the heavy hand of the government putting them in JAIL. This is absolutely not the case here. The NYT isn’t advocating that any of the candidates stifle this free speech in their ultimate capacity as commander in chief and chief executive of the United States government, which would obviously be a violation of the 1st amendment. They’re just suggesting that as candidates — who are, outside of their day jobs in the Senate, essentially private citizens and chairmen of the board of their campaign machine — they exercise their judgment and clout to prevent lunatics and liars with gobs of money from sullying our already goofy looking electoral process with their borderline slander and libel. The extent to which the candidates are able to influence "rogue" 527s will be entirely a product of the "market value," say, of the relationship that the 527 ultimately wants with the person they desire to put in the White House. So if the candidate makes it clear that crazy-mouthed d**chebags will curry less favor with their administration, thus reducing the potential return-on-investment of crazy-mouthed d**chebaggery, then the 527 might make the purely self-interested economic decision not to invest in such.

And isn’t that the kind of free market of ideas libertarians like?
Written By: shelbinator
Wait a second. While the NYT has chosen (as seems to be usual) horrible languae to make their point, the idea that a candidate can align his/her supporters, keep them on message and control the message isn’t something I’d call suppression, it’s something I’d call leadership.

That they ignored that coordination between a 527 and a campaign wasn’t susposed to happen IIRC seems typical.

I’d be with you if they’d called for congress et al... But this seems more like a botched call for leadership than supression.
Written By: Ryan
URL: http://
Sure didn’t take those chaps too long to Move On from the "Betray Us" ad. I guess that was covered under the "speaking truth to power" proviso in what is and is not acceptable speech.
Written By: James O
URL: http://
If that’s their intent, Shelby, then they are too dumb to be given writing utensils. Does anybody believe 527’s could be stopped with a stern glance or a soft word? That’s foolish.

A Presidential candidate does have the power to stop 527’s without passing a law restricting them, but that power consists entirely of their ability to use the threat of their political power to create problems for the people involved with the 527’s. That’s no less objectionable.
Written By: Jon Henke
Considering that the "most out of control supporters" are often not very personally attached to the particular candidate but rather vehemently opposed to the other candidates, there isn’t any realistic hope that the candidates could stifle anything without legislation. (How often have you heard something like, "I’m not pro-McCain at all... I’m just very anti-Hillary!" How could McCain stifle that person?)

And given that most candidates are legislators, that would be the natural inclination anyway. If this were just wishful thinking at the dinner table, I would laugh it off as naive. But I agree that the NYT must have a preferred plan of action in mind for these candidates, and it’s either unrealistic or unacceptable. Or both.
Written By: Wulf
Do you understand what the New York Times just wrote there? They want politicians to be able to "stifle" free speech.
This post is either disingenious, displays George-Allen like levels of idiocy and ignorance, or both.

Whether one agrees with the Times or not, the editors were saying that candidates for an office, as opposed to the office holders themselves, should pressure their supporters to not say certain things.

The term "free speech," by contrast, has relevance only in the context of governmental efforts to limit speech, i.e., efforts by office holders to use the authority of the government to limit speech. The NYT, on the other hand, was referring to the efforts of candidates to persuade their followers to say or not say something.

Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Mr. Henke might understand the distinction, but apparently wants to blur it for this idiotic post, which wpuld make this post another in a series of hackish posts. That’s why he uses the term "politician," presumably, which can refer to both an office holder and a candidate.

Ignorance or hackery. Take your pick.
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
MK, your argument ignores the points I’ve made.

- The candidates have little to no leverage to persuade those "most out of control" that the Times mentions. In fact, the term "free speech" defies being "controlled by" its very nature. It would burn them to try to bully it.
- The candidates actually are office holders, contrary to your assertion. If they could be persuaded to take any action, it would be legislative. This is especially true for this election cycle, where there are no governors remaining - only senators. Senators are legislators, MK... considering my earlier point, what options do they even have? None save legislation.
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://
Surely, a candidate for chief executive of the United States can be expected to show enough executive talent to confront and stifle his or her most out-of-control supporters.
Which include the NYT, MSNBC, Matthews, Olbermann etc.....right NYT?

We don’t have a free press anymore. We have an in-the-tank press that is going to rightfully deserve it when some pol finally destroys them.
Written By: shark
URL: http://
Ultimately, it’s because the NYT doesn’t understand the meaning of the word "press" in the Constitution (or, possibly, they don’t want to understand.)

The NYT believes that the term "press" refers only to professional media organizations. This grotesque and self-serving interpretation is the source of the old journalist’s saw that theirs is "the only profession mentioned by name in the Constitution." That’s why the NYT screams "freedom of the press!, freedom of the press!" when a politician even suggests that the NYT is irresponsible when it publishes some peice of information, but is perfectly OK with the idea of the same politician telling a private citizen or 527 group what they can print and when they can print it. Hell, they believe that it’s not only OK, but that it is a good idea. It is also the source of the NYT’s belief that they should have "special" freedoms (i.e., shield laws) that are not available for private citizens that are not members of a professional media organization.

Of course, their interpretation is BS. "Freedom of the press" refers to the right of American citizens to print and distribute printed materials. It is the direct analogue of "freedom of speech", which you will note that noone is insane enough to argue that it only belongs to the various professional speaker organizations that exist in the US. The only reason that the NYT or any other professional media organization enjoys "freedom of the press" is because ALL US citizens, from the lowliest 911 truther pamphleteer to the lofty Maureen Dowd of the Times (snark intended), are entitled to freedom of the press.
Written By: Terry
URL: http://

Ignorance or hackery. Take your pick.
MK; Those two do seem to follow you around, don’t they?

Written By: Bithead
Meanwhile the NYT presumes its freedom to publish national security secrets.
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
I’m still thinking it’s a leadership thing. Do you think tellibg groups "act childish if you want, but don’t expect a seat at the big table later." is a problem?

It depends how the candidate cajoles the fringe supporters. A god leader should be able to present a vision of the future where staying on the reservation adds value, and going mavrick doesn’t.

Sounds like you want speech without consequences and that doesn’t work here any better than it did for the ditsy chicks.

If it was fbi / irs investigations after winning it would be another story. If its denying access...
Written By: ryan
URL: http://
Ignorance or hackery. Take your pick.
Why choose, I attribute both qualities to your writing
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Paine would basically be seen as an out of control extremist blogger in 1776. NYT would have been urging the British to do something about him.
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
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Written By: 4

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