The Senate is working on a bill that is forged of utter stupidity. Why do we need a special law to protect the rights of journalists? The rights to free speech and freedom of the press are already protected under the first amendment. A shield law is simply a law that protects reporters from having to reveal their sources and private documents. But to look at the way they are defining an amendment to the bill I have to think it is about something else.
The bill’s definition covers four pages and defines the individual as a person ‘‘with the primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information concerning local, national or international events or other matters of public interest,’’ collects the information by conducting interviews and directly observing events, and has the intent of gathering news.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., proposed an amendment to narrow the definition of what a journalist is.
Feinstein said she was introducing her amendment because, ‘‘this bill is described as a reporter shield law — I believe it should be applied to real reporters.’’ She said she was concerned ‘‘that the current version of the bill would grant a special privilege to people who aren’t really reporters at all, who have no professional qualifications.’’
Feinstein’s amendment, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., ‘‘defines a journalist as a salaried agent’’ of a media entity, such as a newspaper, broadcast news station, news web site or another type of news service distributed digitally. She said there was also language, including a ‘‘look back’’ option to protect legitimate reporters not tied to a specific news organization.
Schumer said he thought his legislation had a tight enough definition of who would be protected by the law.
‘‘The bottom line is the world has changed, and we’re very careful in this bill to distinguish journalists from those who shouldn’t be protected,’’ Schumer said. ‘‘Wikileaks and all those others are not protected.’’
First and foremost… How stupid can our senators really be? I suppose we need to pass this to find out what is in it but… Do you think Eric Holder and Barack Obama would be shaking in their boots in fear of some “Shield Law?” No one will enforce this if the NSA or DOJ need to tap some phones. No one will stop it if the administration in power needs to dig up a little dirt or track down the source of a story. If I really thought this bill was about those things I would say that our senators need to be Wonderlic tested. There will be no power of enforcement. Do you really think they would send Eric Holder to prison for spying on Fox News or for tampering with a CBS reporter’s computers?
My feeling is that we need to read between the lines and get to what they are really after. Because, once again, there is no need for a law which is already covered by the first amendment.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
My gut feeling is that this law is meant to set up a special layer of protection for our state run, mostly liberal, mainstream media. If they can get this layer of protection in place then they can begin to go after a lot of right-wing alternative news sources.
There are a lot of big names out there who do not receive a normal guaranteed paycheck. Some of these authors simply work for the publicity they receive for their books and websites. Some work on a “commission” type basis, where they only get paid by the amount of traffic their articles generate. That does not discount the value and quality of their work.
My suspicion is that the spirit of this law is not to protect reporters so much as it is to make a clear distinction on who can be harassed and who can not. They will take what they want from those who are protected by more “covert” methods and for guys like me they will not try to hide it. They are looking to censor and prosecute bloggers and we already know this because of a White House blog article that was published in February.
The government does not like bloggers because they can not control us.
The federal government is afraid of anything that can not be controlled.
In the eyes of “Di-Fi” I suppose I am not worthy of protection. I would however be quite worthy of prosecution.
Maybe we should talk about what constitutes a “real” senator because we don’t seem to have very many of those in D.C.