Common Sense

Thomas Paine gave us “Common Sense”.  Was America born of Thomas Paine or of “Common Sense”?

What did our Founding Fathers intend when they gave us our First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom … of the press”?

What did our Founding Fathers intend when they gave us our Declaration of Independence: “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed”?  Did our Founding Fathers favor institutions over people?

Did our Founding Fathers revere the right of Thomas Paine to express himself in the press, or did they revere “Common Sense”?

Thomas Jefferson said “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper”.  (“The Washington Post”, February 18, 2017)  Did he intend our First Amendment to protect Thomas Paine or “Common Sense”?

When a person has the right to publish his beliefs, that is free press.  When a publication has the right to publish an allegation from an undisclosed source as news, is that free press?  Would a news headline such as “Undisclosed source in the White House says President George Washington and the wife of Vice President John Adams are having an affair” be free press?

Our Supreme Court says corporations are people.  Do you agree?  Is a person who expresses his opinions about the news no different than a newspaper?  Newspapers, television news programs, the Fourth Estate, the media, what is it?

Our 2016 Presidential election opened Pandora’s Box.  Our Fourth Estate touted Hillary Clinton as a shoo-in.  It expressed shock at her loss.  Was it free press or something else?

“Can you define the media for me? … I think the slippery slope of merging former government people who go into the media and vice versa, I think that has blurred the line … forty-five years ago … that began the corrosion … that is the first spot of rust on this relationship. … There are a lot of people at fault for the erosion of trust in the media … What do I think we did wrong in this election?  We didn’t tell the story of all Americans.  We told the story of coastal Americans. … Here’s the problem.  The consumer responds to conflict.  They don’t respond to the information.  The consumer will say what they want, but they don’t tune into that. … I do think, and this is a … conundrum for the press corps, and it is the political correctness conundrum. … I knew how hated Hillary was in the heartland. … Where I think political correctness got in the way of what we all knew as reporters and didn’t fully deliver was how hated the Clintons were in the heartland.  And I think it was a fear of, ‘Oh, is it going to look like it’s too sexist, anti-woman if we say that? … I saw ‘Hillary Clinton for Prison’ signs on lots of yards as long as you went thirty miles outside a metro area, and i think we underplayed it a little bit out of political correctness fears. … If we sort of were straight-up and blunt about — hey do we understand the level of hatred that’s out there, and you know, all the Hillary for Prison signs that are out there — we certainly would have at least made the viewer know, hey, you know, she’s not well-liked in some places in this country in ways that’s maybe times ten when it comes to Trump. … You go to almost any newsroom and I guarantee you almost all of them are from the coasts.”  (Chuck Todd, Moderator of “Meet The Press”, January 26, 2017)

Is this what our Founding Fathers intended to protect with our First Amendment?

Stephen B. Benisch, November 6, 2017

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