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First Bloggers Amendment

First Bloggers Amendment

In light of “questions” by both Lindsay Graham (since clarified) and Dick Durbin as to whether bloggers are entitled to First Amendment protection, I thought these two videos might be worth watching.

Floyd Abrams (btw, father of Dan Abrams, television legal commentator and proprietor of Mediaite and related websites) on The First Amendment in Five Minutes:

Second, Matt Drudge, via The Fix, Matt Drudge was right:

No one — and we mean no one — lacks an opinion when it comes to Drudge and the Drudge Report. The combination of the controversy surrounding Drudge and his legendary reclusiveness makes it difficult to have a conversation about his influence on the culture of web journalism that doesn’t devolve into a shouting match within seconds.

But, Drudge did — and does — have an impact. So, it’s worth going back 15 years this week to a speech Drudge gave at the National Press Club in which he outlined his vision of the future of journalism.

Turns out, Drudge was right about where journalism was heading.

“We have entered an era vibrating with the din of small voices,” he said in the speech. “Every citizen can be a reporter.” Later, he added: “The Net gives as much voice to a 13 year old computer geek like me as to a CEO or Speaker of the House. We all become equal. And you would be amazed what the ordinary guy knows.”


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shortwave8669 | June 8, 2013 at 11:21 pm

I think Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes described well “the press” in Lovell v. City of Griffin, 303 U.S. 444 (1938)-

“The liberty of the press is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. These indeed have been historic weapons in the defense of liberty, as the pamphlets of Thomas Paine and others in our own history abundantly attest. The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.”

I think it is beyond dispute a blogger (even a tweeter) fits within “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.”

    TrooperJohnSmith in reply to shortwave8669. | June 8, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Well said…

    The so-called “legacy press” began ceding its traditional place upon the so-called moral high ground of press integrity when those ubiquitous “guys in pajamas” called BS on Dan Rather’s “Bush Memo” and began the process of relegating him to the realm of nutty uncles and crackpots.

No First Amendment for you pajamahadeen, nor Fourth Amendment: In 2012, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt recruited, coached, and strategized technology for the Obama campaign. Businessweek says Schmidt is now “investing millions to fund a consulting firm for businesses staffed by Obama’s former data analytics team.” I.e., Google tracking was at the service of the Obama campaign!

The reason the freedoms of speech and the press are together is because they are necessarily interrelated. In the 18th Century, your “speech” was pretty much verbal and limited in reach to those who heard your voice or to whom you wrote letters.

So “the press” just means any method of alternative distribution of speech to a wider audience. It certainly was never intended to be restricted to the small subset of newspaper or magazine publishers, the very idea is preposterous. “The press” as an industry was barely in a nascent stage at the time; the protection offered was to their method of disseminating speech, not to them as some privileged class.

In fact it is most probable that most framers of the Constitution and legislatures who ratified it thought of “freedom of the press” as referring to those who owned printing presses and their customers instead of “newspapers and magazines.”

Funny thing happened on the road to “transforming” America…. It started to become more and more clear this meant fundamental changes to our ‘unalienable’ rights, to be replaced with Obama/Holder approved interpretations.

Today the common outcry is “they did what???”…. Soon, their response will morph from “we don’t what you are talking about”, to become “who are you to question this?”

We are not that far from having government demand our compliance or silence. The media is already paving the way, LIVs are more than happy to continue being sheep. Not many more steps until having an anti-government opinion becomes criminal.

Uncle Samuel | June 9, 2013 at 7:04 am

Targeting opposition the way the IRS was used by Obama to target the TEA Party (in order to keep and hold power) IS a violation of the First Amendment.

“Liberals in government and media who have suggested that the targeting of the Tea Party by the IRS wasn’t political don’t have logic on their side. This wasn’t the result of a hiccup in the system, it was an act of political war which violated the United States Constitution and the trust of the American people.

To date, not a single liberal group has come forward with claims of harassment by the IRS in the same time frame. It should also be noted that Organizing For Action, the supposedly non-partisan organization which now controls Barack Obama’s personal Twitter account, sailed through the IRS approval process without incident.

To say this assault on innocent Americans had nothing to do with politics is as absurd as Obama’s campaign promises of transparency. There are no coincidences under this administration.

The Tea Party was targeted for a reason.”


Uncle Samuel | June 9, 2013 at 7:51 am

Freedom comes with responsibility and danger of abuse.

The press can be used to shape and manipulate elections, poison candidates, or tell outright lies when it is owned by foreign and domestic powers with specific agendas. When it acts as ABC did this week and has at other times during the FL case, the press is abusing the First Amendment.

Headlines, stories, the tone of voice and facial expressions of newscasters, or no stories, in effect, silencing truth are being used to sway public opinion, elections, and legal matters.

This is the dirty side of the First Amendment coin.

    Uncle Samuel in reply to Uncle Samuel. | June 9, 2013 at 9:46 am

    Professor Jacobson,

    Thank you for always bringing the best of the best authorities to bear witness and light on the matters assailing our nation.

    It was a great privilege to hear Floyd Abrams speak on the First Amendment and read Andrew Branca’s coverage of the Zimmerman trial.

stevewhitemd | June 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

And you would be amazed what the ordinary guy knows.

Yes indeed. We are a nation of 310 million people. Most all of us are ‘ordinary’.

But we’ve learned to read and write (despite the public schools). We lead lives. We have interesting things to say, and millions of us have the tools, intellect, curiosity and drive to say it.

Yes, you’d be amazed at what we ordinary people know. And can do. And can say.

That is exactly what frightens the ‘elites’ and has frightened them since Leviathan. A world in which ordinary people know the world, express themselves and decide for themselves how to live is a world in which elites are kept in a place they wish not to be.

It’s no surprise that every dictatorial, totalitarian or progressive state seeks to limit what ordinary people can say, do or think.

We know too much. Drudge is right.