Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Frank Watson
Gazette Columnist 

Dear CNN

 

November 29, 2018



Dear CNN,

I watched your broadcasts protesting the revocation of Jim Acosta’s White House press pass. You have now turned to the courts in order to bolster your continued feud with President Trump. I will agree that the President is pompous, rude and undiplomatic. He certainly carries much of the blame for your conflict. You should, however, acknowledge that you are at least partly responsible. In the case of; Jim Acosta, you are just plain wrong.

Your network, and to a degree the national press in general, have come to believe their First Amendment rights are far broader than they actually are. Your greatest beef with the President is that he challenges hourly interpretation of free press. For example, the First Amendment does not exempt you from criticism. You are free to call attack his political and personal l views, question his character, and make fun of his methods; but are aghast when he calls your biased coverage “Fake News”. If your coverage was fair and impartial, he would have no basis for complaining, but your reports lean to the left and are hostile to his views. Thus, the rhetoric has degraded into verbal sparring and name calling reminiscent of two school yard bullies. Now you are trying to hide behind the First Amendment.

You seem to believe the Constitution guarantees your admission to any forum anywhere. That’s just not so. I read the First Amendment. You are protected against government censorship, but have no special privileges beyond those of other ordinary citizens. Your press pass shouldn’t give you the right to be rude or physically abusive. I watched along with 40 million other American’s as Mr. Acosta refused to relinquish the mike and pushed the White House intern out of the way. You shouldn’t have the right to hijack the President’s news conference to broadcast your personal views. A Presidential news conference is no different than a dinner party or any other White House function. It is by invitation only and the President can invite whom he chooses. He grants invitees the opportunity to ask questions. If reporters don’t like the answers, they can say so without fear of censorship. Your reporter was out of line. You need to say so rather than defending him. Your blind support of his actions decreases your credibility and may have consequences far beyond this case.

The courts have been generous with their interpretation of the First Amendment and they may well rule in your favor, but that doesn’t make it right. If the courts rule in your favor, it logically follows that reporters have the right to trespass. I find that unacceptable. That stretches the First Amendment far beyond the original intent. Maybe we should get a court ruling on just exactly how far First Amendment rights extend. Does CNN have the absolute right to bias the news? Do you have the right to shape the news to favor a particular candidate or political party? Where is the line between biased news and libel? Do CNN reporters have the right to break into my home in search of a story?

(Frank Watson is a retired Air Force Colonel and a long time resident of Eastern Washington. He has been a free lance columnist for more than 18 years.)

 
 

Our Family of Publications Includes:

Powered by ROAR Online Publication Software from Lions Light Corporation
© Copyright 2018

Rendered 12/03/2018 14:14