Despite their perspicacity, America’s founders could not have envisioned every turn to which human nature would subject the United States. In fairness, who could foresee the temerity of the deceitful, conspiracy peddling, leftist media now demanding to be designated as the repository and gatekeeper of truth?
When drafting the First Amendment’s recognition and protection of God-given rights to free speech and a free press, the framers knew a governmental attack on a free press outlet would constitute an attack on everyone’s freedom of speech. Equally, they believed a governmental attack on an individual’s freedom of speech would constitute an attack on a free press.
In sum, America’s founding generation understood these rights—which are no more than an implicit recognition of the God-given right to the freedom of conscience—were mutually reinforcing. Given that mutual reinforcement, the founders couldn’t imagine an instance where someone could support freedom of the press but not freedom of speech, or vice versa. Still less could they imagine anyone not in the government arguing for the curtailment or termination of either or both.
But the founders, who based their governing paradigm on a rational assessment of human nature, never had the displeasure of experiencing America’s enraged, irrational leftist media flailing away in the waning days of their fiefdom of the press.
Americans’ Declining Trust in the Press
Two factors have triggered the leftist media’s totalitarian efforts to suppress other media outlets; and, in so doing, every American’s free speech and free press rights.
First, the communication revolution’s exponential expansion of every individual’s media choices and messaging opportunities is an existential threat to the institutional press. In these highly divisive political days, we find ourselves in many ways reverting back to the early republic’s era of pamphlets and newspapers that are identified and marketed by their partisan bent.
For instance, though Fox News and MSNBC do not self-identify as partisan, their audiences know to view them through a partisan lens. Other media outlets that boast of their “objectivity” and “journalistic integrity” (such as CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, et al.) are only deluding themselves. Recent polls reveal that 60 percent of all Americans have “not very much” or no confidence in the media.
This lack of public trust stems from a second factor: the leftist media’s transmogrification from objective journalism to “accountability journalism.” The latter is merely a pretext for leftist journalists to eschew objectivity and insert their own biased opinions into the “news.” The result? Over the past five years, the end result of “accountability journalism” is that the leftist media is recognized as the biggest manufacturer and purveyor of misinformation, disinformation, and conspiracy theories.
Sensing a problem, if not its perniciousness, the leftist media suddenly decided en masse to “speak truth to power” in the case of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Of course, the leftist media’s sudden change from dithyrambs to dirges for Cuomo occurred only after he was finally castigated for his lethal nursing home policy by a progressive attorney general in a state where only a Democrat can be elected governor. Sacrificing Cuomo for their common good, the media is vainly pimping this venal episode as “proof” it isn’t the Progressive Left’s lapdog.
Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee
And what is the common good the leftist media is seeking in their fiefdom of the press? Despite their dubious distinction for partisan disinformation, the leftist media expects to be rewarded with renown, remuneration, and the gratitude of us plebes for their efforts at reeducating us. Specifically, they get freedom of the press and speech, and the rest of us get censored and silenced. Not only that, we’re supposed to like it.
But the best-laid plans of mice and Maoists often go awry.
One of the reasons previous generations of American media clung to the principle (if not always the practice) of objective journalism is because it expanded their audience and, hence, their profitability. What has dawned upon the accountability journalists in today’s “woke” leftist media is the bottom line that the audience for Left-biased news is essentially limited to those who share this bias and want it confirmed. Excepting the rare instances of taxpayer-subsidized media, like NPR, our free press doesn’t get to operate for free. It is a business enterprise that needs to be profitable to survive.
Ergo, when “accountability journalism” erodes public trust and causes the media’s audience to dwindle to ideological diehards at the very time all Americans have increased access to outlets for getting news and disseminating their own views, the existential threat is patent. In short, for the leftist media, “Get woke, go broke” isn’t just a meme; it’s a fait accompli.
While ordinary businesses might examine their operating principles and revise them in accordance with the profit motive, the self-deifying woke media believes itself above such tawdry pursuits. Aping other institutions, such as Wall Street banks, who believe themselves too big to fail (i.e., more important than you)—the leftist press is demanding a government bailout, one that comes with an assist from Big Tech. While they do want your money, this is not their foremost concern. No, they want their accountability journalism cake and to eat it, too.
Democrat-Big Tech-Media Collusion
Thus, to preserve their fiefdom of the press, the leftist media wants to censor and silence other Americans’ rights to free speech and freedom of the press.
To do this, the leftist press is in league with the Democratic Party and Big Tech—entities requiring the rationing of information to the public to retain their own crumbling fiefdoms. (If one doubts this, put in a call to the New York Post, which suffered firsthand the bludgeoning of their constitutional rights by this totalitarian troika during the Hunter Biden laptop incident.)
It isn’t hard to see the bitter fruits reaped when these three leftist entities collude to have Americans censored: the Democratic Party wins seats; Big Tech keeps its monopolies; and the leftist media controls “the national narrative” without having to fuss with banalities like profitability All three combine and work in conjunction to stop the democratizing effects of a citizenry empowered by the communications revolution.
But only for so long.
The communications revolution genie is out of the bottle, and Big Government, Big Tech, and Big Media cannot jam it back into those confines. Already, a majority of Americans are chafing at having to hide their opinions for fear of reprisal. It will not be long until their left-wing oppressors and censors are held to account for trying to mute and master our free people. And they know it.
So, while they may not have envisioned a free press suicidally demanding the termination of Americans’ free speech rights, the founders were well aware that even in a constitutional republic, self-anointed elites could try to oppress their fellow citizens. The founders would not be surprised by polls showing the American people know the biggest disseminator of misinformation and disinformation is the leftist media. And, through the ages, we can hear them echoing, with righteous indignation, our question to the leftist media, Big Tech, and the Democrats: “Who the hell are you to dictate what we can think and say?”