Senator Lindsey Graham Apparently Not Sure If Bloggers Deserve 'First Amendment Protection'

from the well,-that's-interesting dept

Senator Lindsey Graham made an interesting slip of the tongue recently, saying that he’s not sure if bloggers deserve first amendment protection:

“Who is a journalist is a question we need to ask ourselves,” he said. “Is any blogger out there saying anything—do they deserve First Amendment protection? These are the issues of our times.”

Now, as many people will rightly point out, within the context it’s pretty clear that he spoke imprecisely. He was discussing a potential shield law for journalists. He wasn’t really suggesting that bloggers might not deserve any First Amendment rights. I’m pretty sure he’d agree that they do, in fact, have the right to free speech. Instead, he’s referring to another part of the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of the press.

But, I’ll argue that even in that context, the statement is really no less ridiculous. For years, Congress has debated a shield law for journalists, which basically allows them to protect their sources without legal liability. And each time it’s debated, this issue comes up, with some in Congress seeking to carve out “new media,” always using the same bogus rationale, arguing that if “bloggers” get shield law protection, then it means anyone can refuse to give up information on anyone else, by claiming to be a blogger.

This is hyperbolic and untrue.

As we’ve pointed out, there’s a simple way to solve that problem: just make the shield law cover acts of journalism rather than target journalists. Many people may not be journalists by profession, but still, at times, perform journalism. And it’s not that difficult to figure out which is which. Otherwise, you’re carving out a special class of people in an arena in which people doing the exact same thing would face different rules.

And the problems of trying to carve out “journalists” instead of acts of “journalism” become pretty clear, pretty quickly. The last time the shield law concept was being debated, Senators Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein tried to add a carve out that made it clear that Wikileaks should not be protected by the law. And that should scare people. Because when the government can magically decide that this kind of journalism is protected, while that kind of journalism which embarrasses the government is not protected, then you no longer have freedom of the press. At all.

So Senator Graham’s question is quite ridiculous. The “Freedom of the press” needs to cover all acts of journalism, not just those who qualify as “journalists” under an amorphous standard, which is likely to be whether or not a court believes a certain publication is “legit” enough.

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Comments on “Senator Lindsey Graham Apparently Not Sure If Bloggers Deserve 'First Amendment Protection'”

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Gullible White Cattle says:

gullible, indoctrinated, Subservient, cattle

Lindsay Graham is a prostitute in hostile elite’s brothel. this is not left vs right, GOP vs Dems, Socialism vs liberty. This is war against White people.

Why do hostile globalist elite defend Israel as a Jewish ethnostate with Jewish only immigration, but ravage White majority Europe/North America into a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural Gulag with dystopian non-White colonization?

The world is 93% non-White, only 7% White. But 3rd world colonizers, Muslims, Sikhs, Hispanics, are aggressively advancing their agenda to annihilate gullible Whites, just as China annihilates Tibet.

How long will gullible Whites cuckold for murderous anti-White elite, who confiscate our guns, infiltrate/subvert our banks/FBI/CIA, indoctrinate White kids in academia/mass media, plunder White jobs/wages, & butcher White soldiers in bankrupting wars?

“Native” Americans invaded from East Asia. Yellow & Brown races committed 10-times more genocide, slavery, imperialism than Whites. Since Old-Testament, Whites have been victims of Jewish/Crypto-Jewish, Turkic, Muslim, N.African imperialism, slavery, genocide.

Gullible Whites should reject subversive ideologies- libertarianism, feminism, liberalism- & reject hostile slanders of racism. Peace to all humanity, but White people must organize to advance their interests, their fertility, their homelands. Spread this message. Reading list: , , ,

Hephaestus (profile) says:

Re: Re:

should the full shield enjoyed by real journalists be extended to you when you’re not “doing journalism?

By that I am guessing you mean when people express an opinion, say something you do not like, or point out where you have contradicted yourself.

In that case I say no shield law and we should be able to put them in jail, rape their children, and take their homes for expressing their opinions.

Oh wait … isn’t the DOJ involved in some similar scandal now?

Anonymous Coward says:

I think journalists abuse leaks in a lot of cases. When they report on police investigations that are in progress, it can impact those investigations. When they report on sexual peccadillos (holy shit spelled it right on the first try), they’re hurting people for the sake of selling papers or getting page hits.

That said, if we try and say “This kind of journalism is okay and protected, but this kind is not,” all we do is open the door to abuse. Instead of arguing whether someone is engaged in journalism, which is generally fairly straight forward, you have to argue whether or not said journalism serves a public need, and we know which side the government is always going to come on, regardless of how important the story is.

Edward Teach says:

Senator Lindsey Graham

If you’ve been watching Sen. Lindsey Graham at all, you’ll already know that he’s a weak, weak legislator.

For example, he changed his vote on confirming john Brennan as CIA Director because of Rand Paul’s filibuster ( Graham’s vote is for sale, and the price is one obnoxiously-worded filibuster!

Another great example: Graham has a weird, magical view of Guantanamo Bay detainees:

Those detainees have become ritually unclean according to Graham, and don’t deserve any human rights. I think this gives us some insight into the poverty of Graham’s view of his fellow humans, and what “rights” they “deserve” if they’re Not Like Graham.

In short, an embarassment to the Senate, the state he “represents”, his country, and humanity.

Zac Morris (profile) says:

What about freedom of NO SPEECH?

Why should anyone, in any capacity, be “forced” to divulge ANY information [including decrypt a hard drive]?

You have the right to remain silent, except when you don’t?!?

I don’t get it…

If the burden of proof is on the accuser, isn’t it equally their burden to discover whom to accuse in the first place! I have never understood the whole judicial process of compelling people to testify to anything!

Freedom of Speech should apply equally to the freedom NOT to speak/testify, to anything!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: What about freedom of NO SPEECH?

“I’m sure diddlers and perverts everywhere appreciate your support.”

This sniveling could be used to justify just about anything … like maybe webcams in every room of private residences. Since you appear to be in favor of this sort of thing I’m sure you will be first in line to volunteer for the pilot program.

What’s that? – You say you are not any of those things?
How can we be sure if you hide from our cameras? It must mean you are hiding something – amirite?

Mason Wheeler (profile) says:

And each time it’s debated, this issue comes up, with some in Congress seeking to carve out “new media,” always using the same bogus rationale, arguing that if “bloggers” get shield law protection, then it means anyone can refuse to give up information on anyone else, by claiming to be a blogger.

This is hyperbolic and untrue.

As we’ve pointed out, there’s a simple way to solve that problem: just make the shield law cover acts of journalism rather than target journalists.

I don’t really see much of a difference. Now you’ve just shifted the problem from the rather nebulous issue of “how do you define a journalist?” to “how do you define an act of journalism?” The same “bogus rationale” objection still applies, just with a different excuse people would use.

out_of_the_blue says:

Oh, Mike, you're WRONG as usual about a politician!

“I’m pretty sure he’d agree that they do, in fact, have the right to free speech.” — Graham is one of the most extreme fascists in Congress. Since you are blinded by baseless hope that people in Congress are less than outright evil, and you’ve managed to miss the obvious about Graham in particular for the last decade, I’m not going to bother posting some links that you won’t read, just leave it as assertion.

Take a loopy tour of! You always end up same place!
Where Mike daily proves the value of an economics degree.
12:09:19[n- 82-1]

Anonymous Coward says:

you’ve got nothing to worry about Masnick, you are NOT considered a journalist, and as far as we can tell you have never committed an act of journalism in your life.

just because you say your a journo, does not make it a fact, BTW: Wikileaks is NOT journalism either.

Even giving yourself the title “Editor-in-Chief” does not mean you actually ARE.

No one is under any illusion as to what you are Masnick, or specifically WHAT YOU ARE NOT. You might be, be only because of your self delusion.

David Calman says:

It's as simple as:

Blogs and Wikileaks constitute journalism, and, thus, the press, freedom of which must be preserved. When you give preference to certain types of journalism over others, you infringe on the freedom of the press. Blogs are part of the press. Wikileaks is part of the press, notoriety and subject material notwithstanding.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, I like the idea (and it’s been raised by others too). But how would it work? Would the special limits or procedures for subpoenas and warrants only apply when they relate to evidence that stems from acts of journalism? What if they were directed at evidence of some other stuff that just happens to occur around the same time?

By the way, your “functional” solution sounds a lot like the Privacy Protection Act, which already exists.

rukidding (profile) says:

Journalism or Press?

It seems that a lot of the comments imply that the First Amendment protects journalism. However, nowhere in the text of the First Amendment does it mention journalism. Instead, it uses the term press. I think a lot of people use the word press to mean newspapers and then make the leap that journalists working for newspapers are the target of the protection of the First Amendment’s press clause. My understanding of the use of the word press in the context of the First Amendment is simply any document that anyone makes with the expectation (or hope) that it will be viewed by the public. Back in the time when the First Amendment was created, a popular way to get your opinion out to the public was to create and distribute a pamphlet; the creation being done with a printing press. With the advent of the Internet, there is no longer a need to produce a physical document via a press to make it publicly available. In this context, I may not necessarily do things that others would necessarily consider to be journalism; but, the mere fact of me producing something (anything) for public view should be enough for it to be considered press in the context of the First Amendment.

Aaron Bernard says:

Equal Protection Under the Law

“As we’ve pointed out, there’s a simple way to solve that problem: just make the shield law cover acts of journalism rather than target journalists.”

I completely agree. The first amendment applies to all institutions that wish to engage in the exercise of speech, press, assembly, and the redress of their government. There should be no legally preferred or specially privileged institutions (e.g. the religiously-capitalized “Fourth Estate”) under the first amendment.

As such, I am surprised that TechDirt did not fervently stand behind Citizens United, as they were asserting the same rights as the corporations of the NYT, WSJ, WaPo, etc.

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