The royal Fifth Estate

Glenn Reynolds:

[Former New York Times ombudsman Bill] Keller writes: “It’s an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. . . . The power that has been given us is not something to be taken lightly.”

The founders gave freedom of the press to the people, they didn’t give freedom to the press. Keller positions himself as some sort of Constitutional High Priest, when in fact the “freedom of the press” the Framers described was also called “freedom in the use of the press.” It’s the freedom to publish, a freedom that belongs to everyone in equal portions, not a special privilege for the media industry.

— as we have been saying, hardly alone, since forever. But then, why we expect the New York Times, of all people, to understand that point?

UPDATE: In a related development, the Supreme Court has overturned Vermont’s campaign finance laws as excessively restrictive of free speech. That’s another topic we haven’t been shy about it in the past, either, and it’s related to the same point: The concept that speech by the established press is somehow privileged, and speech by everyone else, even politicians running for office, is less worthy of protection.

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Author:Ron Coleman

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