Everyone knows that a fundamental principle of American democracy is the First Amendment — guaranteeing many freedoms to U.S. citizens including freedom of the press and freedom of speech. It is one of those concepts that underlies our society, but is often mentioned only in passing, and rarely considered in practice. Few people — even broadcasters and other media companies — have cause to think about First Amendment principles in their day-to-day operations. The concepts embodied by the First Amendment are almost a given — except when they aren’t.
The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, which sits in an area of the city billed as America’s most historic square mile, will erect the tablet, previously displayed on the facade of the now-shuttered Newseum in Washington, in an atrium overlooking Independence Hall, the UNESCO World Heritage Site where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were adopted.
Hustler magazine publisher Flynt was shot in a 1978 assassination attempt and left paralyzed from the waist down but refused to slow down, building a flamboyant reputation along with a fortune estimated at $100 million while championing First Amendment rights. He was 78.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has signaled he plans to follow President Trump’s lead and “clarify” Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. He also says he has been assured by FCC lawyers that the FCC has the authority to do so. ““As elected officials consider whether to change the law, the question remains: What does Section 230 currently mean?,” Pai said in a statement. “[M]any advance an overly broad interpretation that in some cases shields social media companies from consumer protection laws in a way that has no basis in the text of Section 230. The commission’s General Counsel has informed me that the FCC has the legal authority to interpret Section 230. Consistent with this advice, I intend to move forward with a rulemaking to clarify its meaning.”
NAB CEO Gordon Smith: “The work of our most-trusted sources of news — our local radio and TV stations, broadcast network partners and community and national newspapers — during the most important events of the past six months have shown how essential a free press is to keeping people informed. Yet, these historic times have also laid bare the existential threats facing journalism brought on by economic, cultural and political factors.”
The National Association of Broadcasters has launched a campaign to celebrate the 231st anniversary (Sept. 25) of the passage of the constitutional amendments that became the Bill of Rights, particularly the First Amendment that guaranteed free speech and a free press. The campaign focuses on the key role broadcasters play in upholding those freedoms, coming at a time when broadcasters are taking an economic hit.
Washington Post editorial: The president’s withdrawal of FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly’s renomination is a message to him, his fellow FCC commissioners and appointees across agencies of what happens when they dare to put the rule of law first, just as the president wants Twitter, and Facebook, and all influential companies on the Internet or off to know how carefully they must tread with him in charge. This is a flagrant assault on the First Amendment under the guise of defending it, and an assault on those who seek to defend the right of free expression.
A Seattle judge has dismissed a lawsuit from a little-known advocacy organization that hoped to bar Fox News Channel from transmitting its popular primetime opinion programs to its large cable-news audience. The Washington state group known as the Washington League for Increased Transparency and Ethics, or WASHLITE, filed a suit in Superior Court of Washington State in April, calling for an injunction that would keep Fox News from “publishing further and false and deceptive content” about the coronavirus pandemic.
The National Cable & Telecommunications Association, whose members include the owners of CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, and CBS News, has joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press to support Fox News in its defense of a lawsuit filed by a group, WashLITE, critical of Fox News/Fox Business Network commentary on the coronavirus. WashLITE said that commentary is deceptive commercial speech in violation of consumer protection laws.
President Donald Trump’s Department of Justice lawyers are asking a New York federal judge to allow an immediate appeal of her decision that a suit accusing him of repeatedly violating the First Amendment can move forward — and they want to pause the proceedings in her courtroom while that appeal plays out.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has asked the chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee to speak out against Free Press’s emergency petition to the FCC to stop what that group said was “right-wing personalities” spreading disinformation about the pandemic.
Siding with Google, a federal judge has thrown out Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard’s free-speech lawsuit against the tech company over a brief suspension of her advertising account.
A federal appeals court in California on Wednesday ruled that privately operated internet platforms are free to censor content they don’t like. Though not unexpected, the unanimous decision by the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco marks the most emphatic rejection of the argument that YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and other giant tech platforms are bound by the First Amendment.
The state Supreme Court ruled that the public has a right to records in an earlier case in which Gray Television’s argued successfully that its CBS affiliate WCAX Burlington should not be forced to turn over to police footage of a shooting in January 2018. “This unanimous decision is an important victory not only for the Vermont media, but all Vermonters, who depend on journalists to be independent and not take sides in any kind of story,” said Lisa Loomis, president of the Vermont Press Association.
As legislation is being proposed to regulate Big Tech, broadcasters should realize that any regulation involving use of the internet by business will eventually affect television stations, particularly any encroachment on the First Amendment. This is a genuine concern because one of the bubbling issues is who can post what information.
The sun is shining a little brighter in the Sunshine State, thanks to a pair of mid-May court rulings in cases involving press freedom in which the RTDNA Voice of the First Amendment Task Force has been involved.
The political cartooning display at Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum runs the gamut from a 1774 etching by Paul Revere criticizing Britain’s use of tea as a political weapon to a 2018 cartoon lampooning the blocking of online conservative commentary.
Richard Kaplar has run the media company-backed First Amendment advocacy organization since January 2018 following the retirement of president-CEO Patrick Maines, but with the title of executive director, a post Kaplar has held since 2016.
… the dangers are just beginning. New White House rules governing the press corps threaten the First Amendment.
Rich people have free speech rights. Do the corporations they run? That question is destroying democracy.
The U.S. Supreme Court may soon have the opportunity to shake up the consumption of news. At stake could very well be the online dissemination of broadcast news clips as well as a deeper understanding of how politics and news intersect. That’s because Wednesday, the media monitoring service TVEyes indicated in an application to the high court that it would indeed be petitioning for review of a recent appellate loss to Fox News.
A federal judge on Tuesday lifted a controversial order requiring The Los Angeles Times to delete information in an article published over the weekend. U.S. District Judge John Walter walked back his original decision after the Times protested with the support of newsrooms across the country, citing First Amendment concerns.
A U.S. District Court judge has ruled that the State of California’s SAG-AFTRA-backed law making it illegal for the entertainment news site IMDbPro to publish actors’ ages is unconstitutional on First Amendment grounds.
The creation of the First Amendment by our nation’s founders demonstrated a profound commitment to human dignity, reason and the search for truth. First Amendment confusion reigns today in America. Today, too many Americans take a self-centered approach, claiming their own individual rights, but not acknowledging that the First Amendment protects the free speech of the other guy, too.
RTDNA on Thursday demanded that the press office for the Georgia State Senate rescind its threat to revoke press credentials for a WGCL Atlanta reporter who had the audacity to ask questions of a state senator in the public hallway of a public building, the Georgia State Capitol.
Journalists are not immune to misunderstandings of the First Amendment, despite their self-evident interests in the functionality and well-being of a free press (and, indeed, their long and important efforts to protect speech and press freedoms). Jonathan Peters asked a dozen media law professors and attorneys what they consider common misunderstandings that journalists have about the First Amendment and media law. Eleven shared their thoughts.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on New Year’s Day called for a revival of “shared facts” in politics and the media. Sasse released a video saying that the country’s system of government “will not work” without a shared understanding of the value of the First Amendment.
Under questioning by New Jersey Democrat Frank Pallone at a House hearing, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would not be drawn into criticizing the president for suggesting that the FCC ought to revoke the licenses of media companies for news stories Trump felt were untrue. However, Pai did say that he would not use the power of the FCC for retribution against any media company because of its reporting.
A group of 21 free speech activists, including three former FCC commissioners, called on the FCC chairman to publicly repudiate President’s Trump tweeted suggestion that the FCC revoke broadcast licences for airing “fake news” about him. “Such threats are what you would expect to hear in a dictatorship, not a democracy, and they must be condemned in the strongest possible terms,” they say in an open letter.
An Indiana lawmaker has drafted a bill that would require professional journalists to be licensed by state police. Rep. Jim Lucas had the measure drawn up earlier this year and said he may file it to drive home a point about his signature issue — gun rights. “If you’re OK licensing my Second Amendment right, what’s wrong with licensing your First Amendment right?” he said.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told journalists Thursday, “I’m a constitutional conservative, I’m for the First Amendment.”
It took a long time for the press to gain freedom and respect in America. Now both are in peril.
During the past several days the feud between President Trump and the NFL regarding many of its players taking a knee during the national anthem has deepened an already divisive debate about the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech and expression. What’s not as well known is that there has been a steady increase in efforts in many states to squelch public protests, an effort quite possibly borne out of the protests and rioting that followed the shootings of African-Americans by white police officers and others, which became more frequent three years ago.