One in a series where we take a look at the absurd, stupefying and clueless.
Alternate headline: Another elected politician having trouble with that whole 1st amendment thing.
Here’s Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) explaining the concept of free speech and freedom of the press:
“Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech. But when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.”
There’s always a “but” with these people. Do you feel comfortable with people like Durbin defining who and who doesn’t qualify as a journalist? We didn’t think so.
Durbin, feeling good about his grasp of the Constitution, continues:
“A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined ‘medium’ — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news Web site, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.”
Glenn Reynolds rightly describes Durbin as a “constitutional ignoramus.” Read his takedown of Durbin here.
As with most things in Washington D.C., idiotic statements like the above come from good intentions. The background for all this is proposed legislation that would give legal protection for media outlets that expose government secrets, whistleblower protection, if you will.
What Durbin won’t admit to, however, is that his high-mindedness is not about whistleblower protection, it’s about power. It’s about the power to have control over what information gets disseminated and who disseminates it.
You see, Durbin and the Beltway establishment don’t like the concept of blogs and other forms of social media informing and opining on Beltway goings-on in a rapid-fire, non-stop, 24/7 and completely uncontrollable manner.
Durbin and the beltway establishment are indeed freaked-out by the new media as they are placed under levels of scrutiny, accountability and deserved ridicule career hacks, such as, Durbin could not have imagined even as recently as 10 years ago.
Too bad, Dick. New media is not going anywhere and there is not a damn thing you can do about it. We look forward to participating vigorously in its democratizing ways for years to come.