Archive for the ‘Silence Dissent’ Category

Article: Is 1st Amendment on life support?

June 22, 2008

Very good article from National Press Club perspective.

I took exception to Ms. Smith’s statement in the article:

….My point is that the very thing the people who advocated blocking Sinclair’s press conference said they feared – widespread media coverage – simply didn’t happen because no credible news outlet would publish those kinds of allegations without first verifying them….

My response:

The problem is that No Credible News outlet has tried to do either – verify or disprove Mr. Sinclair’s allegations.

Published: June 22, 2008 6:00 a.m.

Is 1st Amendment

on life support?

Commentary by Sylvia A. Smith

Commentary by Sylvia A. Smith
Washington editor

WASHINGTON – After a week of relentless e-mails and phone calls from people who were outraged at the prospect of a guy scheduling a press conference to make allegations about Barack Obama, I’m not sure extreme CPR could resuscitate the idea of free speech in some Americans’ minds.

The message they sent was that the guy is a crackpot and a felon and therefore should be prevented from speaking.

Let me fill you in on what happened.

As you might know, I’m the president of the National Press Club this year. The Press Club is a major venue for newsmaking in Washington. We invite lots of interesting, provocative and newsy people to speak here.

But we also rent our meeting rooms to people and groups. They might have a private event (a wedding reception or a conference limited to their own members). Or they might rent space to conduct a press conference.

When that happens, the NPC functions essentially as a conference center.

A couple of weeks ago, one of our meeting rooms was reserved by a customer for a press conference. As it turned out, Larry Sinclair wanted to say he had done illegal things with Obama.

There’s lots of stuff going on in Washington that competes for journalists’ time and attention. The likelihood of much media coverage for this fellow was pretty low because of the outlandishness of his claims and (if anyone had done a Google search on him) his dicey background.

But then a few blogs got wind of the event. They huffed and they puffed that Obama was being unfairly attacked. They detailed Sinclair’s allegations. They stoked their readers to try to force the National Press Club to silence him….

The underlying message I got from the callers and e-mailers was that the First Amendment and free speech are an impediment to the way they think things ought to be. Or that while some people are free to speak, others should not be.

That way of thinking is a lot scarier than allegations from Larry Sinclair…

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