News vs Noise April 6
Articles,  Blog

News vs Noise April 6


>>Welcome to IVCC again. We are here and for
our inaugural event for our Noise vs. News Program. And to begin the event, we have
our first presentation in April with Amanda Cook Fesperman, a
History Instructor here at IVCC. So, I hope you enjoy
the program. And if you have questions, there
are pads in the back of the room which you’re welcome
to take and write down. Or at the end of the program,
we can pass around the mic and you can ask if you
have any questions. All right, enjoy and thank you.>>All right, thanks. [ Inaudible Remarks ]>>I have a really loud voice. So, you won’t have any
problems hearing me. So, welcome and thank
you for coming. I do want to make
one correction just because it’s my personal thing. I’m actually Professor of
Political Science & History, but I’m predominantly
a Political Scientist. So, I got to get that
role plugged in there since I’ve been studying it
since I was 17 years of age. So welcome and I– really
looking forward to talking to you tonight about the First
Amendment and Free Press. Littered throughout my
presentation, you’re going to see some cartoons
like here on the front. And I put these in intentionally
not just for your entertainment but because part of the way in which the media
expresses itself is oftentimes through these kinds
of political cartoons. So, all of them have to do with whatever it is I’m
talking about at that moment. There were a couple I couldn’t
find the non-copyrighted version of, so they’ve got
a big C over them but we can still see
them and enjoy them. So, we’ll kind of get started. So, first thing I want to
talk about was, you know, why do we have this conversation
about freedom of the press? And one of the compelling
reasons to talk about it is because it’s in the
Constitution. I always find it really
interesting that we have a lot of debates in this country about
the Second Amendment but not so many about the
First Amendment. And I’m going to make the
point and I think I’m going to make it pretty well, that
the First Amendment is more important to our
freedom and to democracy than the Second Amendment is. And that might not make me
popular but I think it’s true so I’m going to say it. So, I think it’s really
important we understand that the right to have the
ability, not just to speak but to have information provided
to us about the government and what the government is
doing is in the First Amendment. And so, it is something that
not only the founding fathers that was important, but that
we should think is important and we should consider
what it means for a free democratic
society to have a free press. So, I don’t know if
you’ve seen this quote here but this is a good one. So Thomas Jefferson, of
course, is the author of the Bill of Rights. And Thomas Jefferson
says the basis of our government being
the opinion of the people, the very first object should
be to keep that right; and were left to me to decide
whether we should have a government without newspapers or
newspapers without a government. I should not hesitate a
moment to prefer the latter, but I should mean that every
man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them. And this of course
was written in 1787. So he said this prior
to adding the free press into the First Amendment. Now, of course, if you’re
a student of Jefferson, you’ll know that
Jefferson’s views on the press before he was
president changed a little bit after he becomes president. But a lot of times, his
talk about the press is sort of taken out of context. He is critical of the press,
but what he’s really critical about the press is, is not so
much what the press is saying, it’s the way in which the
news is sort of being mixed between opinion and what he saw
as really press, advertising, and what he saw as really press. So, this is a really important
quote and it really shows that the foundation of a
free society really starts with this notion
of a free press. So, what I want to do
now is talk a little bit about the history of what the
Supreme Court has had to say about the importance of a
free press, and what kinds of limitations or restrictions
have been placed upon the press, and what the court
has done with that. There are a lot of
cases we can look at. I’ve chosen several
to talk about today. But we always want to
start with this first case, which is really the seminal one,
which is Near versus Minnesota. So, we’re going to be talking
later about this concept of prior restraint and
what that really means and how that plays out today. But Near versus Minnesota
is a case predominantly about this concept
of prior restraint. And so, the idea in this case
is whether or not a state, and in this case the State
of Minnesota, can pass a law that preemptively prohibits the
printing of certain material. And in this case, in Near versus
Minnesota, what they’re talking about is material
that’s considered to be libelous or scandalous. And so, when this case makes
its way up to the Supreme Court, we get our first decision where
the Supreme Court clearly says that the press is
somehow different than other groups of people. So, the decision says
that the state law that allows prior restraint
as unconstitutional. And the decision also extended
protection of free press to the states through
the Fourteenth Amendment. And if you don’t know
the Fourteenth Amendment, this is one of the
Civil War amendments. It does a lot of things. But one of the things
it does is talk about extending the
protections that are in the Bill of Rights to the states. When the Bill of Rights was
first written, it only applied to the national government. So, when we say that people have
the right to freedom of speech or freedom of the press,
what we’re saying is that the government, meaning
the national government, can’t take away those rights. And it’s not until the
Fourteenth Amendment is passed that we began to see those
rights extended to the states. It’s a process called
selective incorporation. And so, what has to
happen for those rights to be selectively
incorporated is you have to have a Supreme Court
case that deals either with the entire amendment itself
or a portion of that amendment. So, in the case of Near versus
Minnesota, this is our case that selectively
incorporating free press so that states also
can’t limit that right. So, that’s the first case
here, Near versus Minnesota. It goes back to 1931. Second case we want to look
is also a really famous case. This case is New York
Times versus Sullivan. And this is a case
that deals with whether or not a newspaper
can publish something that contains false
material or not. And it actually had to
do with an advertisement that was submitted
to the paper and run. And the material in question, it
contained some false statements. So, in the case of The New
York Times versus Sullivan, the question is does everything
that’s put in print have to be fact checked and
absolutely accurate? And if there’s anybody who is
a part of the press here today, you can know that’s kind
of a difficult thing to do, because sometimes what the media
is presenting is not just a list of facts but it’s
presenting a perspective. And a perspective is something that might not be
what you think is true but what somebody else
might think is true. And so, the importance of this
case is that the Court held that the First Amendment
protects newspapers even when they print false
statements, as long as the newspapers did
not act with “actual malice.” So, if they’re not trying to
impugn somebody’s character, they’re not, you know, acting
in a malicious fashion, then it’s OK if what they
published is not always necessarily true. It also amends that the
First Amendment protected all statements about public
officials unless the speaker lied with the intent to defame. So, when we’re talking about
public officials, they’re going to make it a clear
distinction here. So if you’re, you know,
working in the public domain, you’re working in government,
pretty much almost anything sort of actual defamation
of character is going to be pretty fair game. And again, that’s really
important because if we want to talk about government,
we want to have the ability to criticize government and
to present a perspective which might not always
be the perspective that that particular
individual wants to put out. The next case we want to look
at is Garrison versus Louisiana. This case says that you
have a Louisiana Law that punished true statements
made with “actual malice.” And in this case, they’re
actually overturned. The Court ruled that
unless a newspaper shows “reckless disregard for
the truth,” it is protected under the First Amendment. So, in this case, in Garrison, we’re actually getting an
extension of the protection of the freedom of the press. So it’s not just the standard
of, you know, defamation, it really allows the press
to print even more things that they want to print
without being questioned. So, it expands that
protection again. And the next case, we
actually have two cases but they were heard together,
Curtis Publishing Company versus Butts and
AP versus Walker. And this dealt with somebody
who’s a public figure but who is not a public
official, so somebody who is in the public domain but is not
necessarily an elected official. And so, the question
here, again, it goes back to this notion of
what can be published. Can you publish things
that are, you know, maybe false about
that individual? And so, in these two cases, what
the Supreme Court decided was that a “pubic figure” who is not
a public official may recover damages for defamatory
falsehood that harms his or her reputation, if the
newspaper’s actions were an “extreme departure” of the
standards of reporting. And the first case
in the Butts case, the Supreme Court
actually decided that what they published
was in fact damaging, and that the newspaper should
have known ahead of time because they didn’t
do good fact checking. In the case, however, the newspaper actually relied
upon somebody as a source for information that they
believed to be credible. So, when they published
the information, the Supreme Court said that,
in that particular case, what the papers had done was
not illegal or unconstitutional. And then the reason
that I wanted to talk about those cases is
because it then leads us into this next case which is a
pretty famous one called Hustler v. Falwell. And this case comes out in 1988. Now, Hustler Magazine is not
a newspaper, but keep in mind that when then Supreme Court is
protecting the right of people to publish information, they’re
not just protecting the right of The New York Times. They’re protecting the rights of
all sources of print material, and that includes, you know,
brochures and pamphlets and of course, in this
case, Hustler Magazine. And the reason that this
case is important is because the Supreme Court
actually reverses its previous position. So, in its previous
position, what it said is if you’re not a public official
but you’re a public figure, that you can actually
recover damages. And so, in this case, what happens is Hustler
Magazine runs a, what they call a satirical piece
of the Reverend Jerry Falwell. And the piece is a sort of
a mixture of a advertisement for a liquor, and
they’re using the theme for what the ads had done
in the past and a sort of pseudo interview
with Falwell. And what ends up happening is
they present Falwell as somebody who is having his first
time drinking this liquor, but in the interview,
they portray things about sexual relations with
his mother in an outhouse. So, Jerry Falwell, of course not
liking this in particular, sues. And so, this case ends up in
the Supreme Court in 1988. And as I said, sort of
reverses what the Court had done in the previous decision. So here, the First Amendment
prohibits public figures from recovering damages
for intentional infliction of emotional harm unless the
publication contained a false statement made with
actual malice. And you might say, well, that
seems like pretty malicious. But the defense that Hustler
Magazine put forward was, well, this is satire. And satire, of course,
is going to say things that might seem malicious,
but if you understand that it’s satire, well then,
we have the right to say it. And the Supreme Court of
course sided with them. Now, if you’re a fan of many of
the satirical new shows that are out today like the
“Daily Show” or John– why can’t I remember his name? It’s on HBO.>>Oliver?>>”John Oliver Show”, then I think you’ll get a
pretty good sense of why it is that it’s important
that we protect satire, because to be quite honest, one
of the things we’ve discovered about information and where
people, especially young people, get their information from is that satirical news is
actually a pretty big outlet for people getting information. And so, as long as you
understand the satire, you can sort of separate
the two out. It’s something important
that we should protect. The last case then–
I think that’s– Oh no, there’s actually
one more. The next case then is
another famous case. This is The New York Times
versus The United States. And this, of course, deals with
the famous Pentagon Papers. So, this is a question about
national security, whether or not the United States
government can basically say to newspapers, you
have information that we deem to be classified. And thus as a result
of it being classified, you can’t publish it. And so, in this case,
the Supreme Court argues that the claim of a threat to
national security is not in and of itself justification for
prior restraint on publication of classified documents, in this
case, about the Vietnam War. And what really comes out of this case is the
important understanding that if the government is going
to put in place prior restraint, meaning you say to
a newspaper outlet, you can’t publish
certain information. That the honest to prove
that real damage will be done as a result of publicizing, that
falls on the government and, of course, most importantly,
upon the President. So, with this case, you know,
we get again to the ability of the newspapers to sort
of expand upon what it is that they’re allowed to do. And then lastly,
we had this case, Nebraska Press Association
versus Stuart. In here, we’ve got a judge’s
order that the media not publish or broadcast statements by
police in a murder trial. This was seen as unconstitutional
prior restraint. So again, this deals with a case
where a family was murdered. The– In order to try to prevent
the tainting of the jury pool, the police tried to prevent,
under state law, the newspaper from publishing any information that they gained
about the trial. And of course, this case then
winds up in the Supreme Court. And the Supreme Court says that the gag order violates
the First Amendment rights of the press and the community. So, as you can see, we sort of
have this progression of cases in which the Supreme Court has
generally sided with free press, as much as possible,
arguing that the freer that the press is, the better
that that is for society and putting a few
restrictions upon it. That doesn’t mean, however, that
they aren’t any restrictions, and we’re going to talk
about that here in a second. But before we do that, I
want to go over this concept with the Doctrine
of Prior Restraint. So, I’ve talked about
it a couple of times. But what does it,
you know, really mean and to what extent
can it be regulated? So, the Doctrine of Prior
Restraint of course comes out of Near versus Minnesota. But again, it’s this idea of what can the government
say ahead of time– Sorry. We have somebody in the back
who’d like to be let in. Thank you. What can the government
prevent ahead of time from being published? And in this particular case,
in Near versus Minnesota, the Supreme Court tried to
establish some exceptions. And the exceptions that were
discussed in the decision were when the nation is at war. So, the policy of prior
restraint is much easier for the government to prove
their burden when the nation is at war as opposed to
during peace time. When you’re dealing
with an obscenity and that will be changed
later on, but that’s early on. And then the act of sedition,
so if you’re actively trying to overthrow the government
or work against the government in some way that would be deemed
illegal or unconstitutional, then the newspaper– excuse me, that the government has
the right to prevent that from occurring
ahead of time. Generally, however,
the Court has held that the only compelling
interest for prior restraint
is national security. And as a result, as I said
before, the President must make that case in the Court. So, you can’t just
blanket and say, all of this is national
security, and you publishing it is a
threat to national security, and thus, we have the right
to say you can’t publish it. Because, obviously, we
know if were the case, what would happen is, well, lots of presidents would be
saying all kinds of things fall under the umbrella
of national security. So, the burden of proof really
then rests upon the government and that’s a really
important thing that distinguishes American
jurisprudence when it comes to the press from a lot
of our European allies. Particularly if you look at
a country like Great Britain where oftentimes when
you’re dealing with things like prior restraint or
you’re dealing with things like defamation or obscenity,
the burden of proof is not on the government or
the person claiming that they’ve been
defamed, it’s actually on the person who’s
publishing the material. And so, that’s an
important distinction that these cases established. OK. So, when we talk
more about modern times, the question then becomes when and how can the government
use prior restraint? And again, when we look
at prior restraint, a lot of the times
what we’re dealing with is national
security issues. So, when we go back, this is from a New York Times
publication in 1991 about the first Persian
Gulf War. And so, the headline
is from there. It says, CONFRONTATION IN THE
GULF; Rules for Journalists: Necessity or Prior Restraint? So when we go back to 1991,
this is the first time where we have a war where the
government is trying to say to the media ahead of time that not everybody can just be
engaged in covering the war, at least from the perspective
of the location of the war. So, if we go back to the
Vietnam War era, this is sort of where this comes out of. So, in the Vietnam War, there were no restrictions
basically placed on journalists. And journalists could
go into war zones. They could go over
to the country. And they were pretty free
to take pictures and report on almost anything that
they wanted to report on. And as you may or may not know,
part of what happens as a result of that reporting is that
public opinion begins to change about the war. In particular, as news media
begins to take pictures of body bags and coffins coming
back from the Vietnam War, public opinion begins to change. And so the government
sort of learned its lesson as a result of the Vietnam War. And so, this is the
first president, Bush, there this administration
decides they want to try to limit that. And so, one of the ways
that they do that is by creating what were so-called
press pools, that are allowed to go along and have permission
to shoot certain things but then they have to–
anything that they want to write or publish then has to be
pre-approved by the government. And so, what The New York
Times is really asking here is, you know, is this about,
you know, necessity? Is this something that’s
really about national security? Or is this just the government
really abusing prior restraint? Now, strangely enough, given
the sort of progression of the Court cases,
this blanket prohibition on journalists traveling into
war zones and taking the photos that they want as a result
of war actually stays in place for 18 years. So, it begins here in
this particular war and then it continues on. So, in 2003, we get this new–
relatively new term at least as it’s applied here,
which is this concept of what’s called an
embedded journalist. So, if you remember this
from the second Iraq War, embedded journalists
or journalists that are basically embedded
with the military unit, and then they were allowed to
travel with them and report on the war, but again, with
the same kind of standard that we saw in 1991, which is
that anything that you’re going to publish that comes out
of the war zone ushered by the government to make sure that there aren’t threats
to national security. So, on the one hand, you
know, there’s this question about access and, of course, being an embedded journalist
means that you get a lot of access but not– but being an
embedded journalist also means that the government
then has pretty big say over what you can
and cannot publish. So, this stays in place
until 2009 when the ban, not for embedded
journalist is lifted, but the ban on the
taking of photographs of coffins coming back
from war is actually lifted by the Obama administration. And so, for 18 years,
you weren’t allowed to see those coffins
coming home. Now, I put this particular
picture in here. It’s the only one I have
that’s not a satirist cartoon because the argument
over whether or not journalists should
be able to take pictures of coffins usually
sort of goes like this. On the side of the people who
oppose it, they say, well, you know, the families are
grieving and, you know, that you should seek their
permission because if they want that information out there, that should be something they
should have to consent to. But I actually haven’t seen
this picture when I was thinking about this in my mind, how many of these people can we
actually identify just by the pictures of the coffins? And so, when I just Googled a
picture of coffins coming home from war, this was the
first one that came up. And it seems to me
that first off, these are completely
unidentifiable. I mean, you couldn’t
know from looking at this picture whose body
is actually inside of here. But not to mention the fact that we’ve got these
crippled soldiers over here, we’ve got one just
sort of sitting on the edge of the coffin. So, if the idea is
that we’re supposed to respect our fallen soldiers
and protect their families, I’m not really sure that
that’s really what’s going on. So, the other side of the debate
then is, OK, if it’s not really about respecting the
privacy of families and respecting our
fallen dead soldiers, what is it really about? And then that makes the
other side go back to, well, the Vietnam War, right, which is
if you don’t want public opinion to change as the body rises
in a conflict and the number of people coming home in coffins
goes up, then the easiest way to prevent that from
happening is to prevent the pictures
from getting out. So, even though the Obama
administration lifted the ban, it’s actually not
completely lifted. You still have to seek the
permission of the family member if you’re going to use a picture
of that coffin in the media. So, it’s not a complete ban. It’s not completely
lifted either. So again, you can see, you know, that we’ve got the government
still trying to interfere. So, let’s move on
to this question, why is a free press
so important? And, you know, there’s
some quotes and things we can
talk about later. But I want to introduce you
to a website that I use a lot in my classes, which is I
think a really good website. It’s a website called
Freedom House. And Freedom House is an
international organization that one of the things they do
is they look at the countries around the world and they put out a report every
year on freedom. How free are given countries? Every country that they
can get the information on receives a score, and
that score is based primarily on three things. Number one is freedom
of the press. Number two is their
government’s– their election is fair and open. And number three is protection of other civil liberties
and civil rights. And so, what Freedom House does
every year is they produce this report, and what I like
is they produce this map of the world based on freedom. So, I want to take us
to the first of a couple of their reports
I want to look at. It does take a couple of
seconds for this to load. They sort of give that like, oh, it’s going to load
and then it doesn’t. Oh, faster than at home. So, this is the 2017, just
general map of the world. So, as you can see, countries
that are in green are countries that are considered free. This isn’t quite as vibrant as
what you can see on the screen. So, my husband is color blind and I’m somewhat
sensitive to this. So, countries like
Australia, the United States, those are what we’re
considering to be green. And these are what we would
call liberal democracies, countries in which you have
free, fair and open elections. You have a general respect
with civil liberties and civil rights, and then
generally, a free press. Countries then that are in yellow are what
they call partly free, which means they are missing
one of those components or one of those components is
not particularly vibrant. And then, of course, the
countries in blue are countries that are not free at all. And it’s not a big surprise, I
think, when you look at this map to see what parts of the
world are considered free and what are considered
not free. But it’s a good starting point
if you’re sort of looking at, you know, what’s
going on in the world. From here though,
I want to take you to a second link for their site. Let me go back here
and forward us here. That actually then begins to evaluate specifically
freedom of the press. So, what they have concluded,
and I’ll show you their report in their new map, is that
while there is more media in the world today, so more
sources of information, that in fact there is less
free press in the world. And this has been a trend
that they’ve seen going on for about the last 12 to 15 years. So, despite this explosion of
information, that the dampening of the freedom of the press
is going on in the world. So, this is a second link
although I think this one might be 2016. They haven’t put out
their 2017 report yet. So, this is their
freedom of the press site. And again, we’ve got
this color scheme here, a blue, yellow, and green. And what you can see again is,
in this case, what we’re looking at is not how free the
particular country is but how free the press is. Now, they’re not evaluating
the content of that material. All they’re evaluating
is whether or not the press is
relatively free from things like prior restraint and
from government censorship, or from government ownership
of the press, et cetera. And again, you know, not
a lot of big surprises. One of the things I like to
do when I see these kinds of maps is I kind of like
to do some comparisons. Because while there are
a lot of countries here that are in that green zone, what you’ll notice is that
there’s some differences. So, the lower your score,
the more free your press is. So, you can see here
that the score for the United States is 21. Can you see that?>>No.>>Yeah, it’s there. It’s– Isn’t that popping
them on your screen?>>It’s lighter.>>It’s there.>>Yeah, it’s over here on this
side of the screen right here. Yeah. So, it’s kind
of small, right? So, here’s the score right here. So, if you can’t see it,
trust me, it says 21. And so, you know, as a country,
as I said before, you know, if you compare us
to Great Britain, right, here’s Great Britain. Great Britain comes in at 25. So as I said, compared to a
country like Great Britain, the United States has a
relatively free press. But if you compare us to
some of the other countries in the world, we actually
don’t score that well. So here is our neighbors
to the north of Canada will have
a score of 18. And as we slide on over to
some of our Nordic countries like Sweden is we can see
scores like 11, 9 in Norway. So the reality is, is that even
though the United States has a relatively free press and we
get a nice green on this map, if we see the comparisons,
it’s pretty clear that we aren’t necessarily
as free as you might think that we are. And I’ll talk about that a
little bit more in a second. So, let me jump back over
here for a quick second.>>I have a question.>>Yeah?>>You’re saying the US is 21. So, the lower the number–>>Correct.>>– the more freedom?>>The freer the press.>>All right, OK.>>Then higher the number. So, if we’re going to
look some of those blue– If we’re going to look at
North Korea, I would expect that number pretty
close to a 100, right?>>OK.>>Yeah. And we’ll talk
about that in a second.>>OK. Yeah.>>OK. So, and even the
Internet is under attack. And there’s some
whole lot of debate. You know, the Internet sort
of after Al Gore created it, we all sort of we’re
just not related. Some people get the
joke, not everybody. We really didn’t have a whole– a really good sense or
grasp about, you know, what we were going to allow and
what we weren’t going to allow. And, of course, the
problem with the Internet is that it expands across
the globe. And so, you know, deciding what
kind of information you’re going to allow in as opposed to what
kind of information you’re going to keep out, that becomes
a sort of new challenge. So again, Freedom House
has a report here, and I think even
though it says 2016, if I remember this
is really a 2015 one. And they are particularly
looking at communication gaps. Now, here we’ve got a lot of
grey, and those are countries where they don’t have any
data for because, well, these are pretty underdeveloped
countries where you don’t have as much access to that
kind of information. But again, what they’re
looking at here is, you know, sort of how much freedom
is there when it comes to these communication
apps, things like Twitter and I don’t know very much
else, Snapchat, and you can– and people shout them out
because you know them better than I do, but the
kind of information that that can be
really important. So, if we think about the
Arab Spring, for example, which started in Tunisia, right? So this, you know, sort
of silent revolution that has actually resulted
in the war in Syria. So, it starts in Tunisia,
we have a street vendor who is protesting the fact that
he’s being denied a license to be able to have
his street cart out. And in protest, he
lights himself on fire. And that’s a protest we don’t
see a lot in this country but it is something that happens
pretty frequently throughout the world. And a video of his protest
goes out on Twitter. And as a result, the long-time
authoritarian government of Tunisia is sort of,
you know, quickly replaced and you have this sort
of silent revolution. But what happens
is that it spreads. And what you might be
more familiar with, if you weren’t familiar
with the Tunisia case, is the case of Egypt, right? So, when this starts in
Tunisia, it begins to spread to other countries,
including Libya and we end up with the overthrow
of Muammar Gaddafi. But then it spreads
to Egypt where we end up with the 30-year dictator,
Hosni Mubarak in power. And we see large numbers
of young people taking to the streets and
they are using Twitter and quite predominantly
but also Facebook to not only show what’s going on and to tell what their protest
is, but to also announce to other people, hey, we’re
going to be meeting at this time and if you want to come and you
want to protest the government, here’s where we’re going to be. And so, in Egypt, what
ends up happening is that, not only does Twitter sort
of helped people to organize, but it is also an opportunity
for people to take pictures of potential abuses
and to spread that throughout the world. I’m an Africanist by
training, so I studied Africa and their political
systems a lot. And I can tell you that
had we had this kind of communication available
to us 50 years ago, the apartheid regime in South
Africa would have fallen a long time ago. Because what happens in South
Africa that eventually begins to lead to public opinion change about that administration
is you have a journalist, a white journalist, who sneaks
out pictures of the dead body of Steve Biko who
was an activist, a black consciousness
activist in South Africa. And the government had claimed
that Steve had, I think, went on a hunger strike if I remember correctly
and died in prison. Well, when they sneaked into
the morgue and take pictures of his body, it’s very clear
he’s been beaten to death. And so, this journalist flees
the country with the photographs and they get out in
the worldwide press and everybody sees this
really ugly face of apartheid which is not the face that
was not only not being put out by the South
African government, what was not the case that
was being put out by the West who wanted the South African
apartheid regime in place because for them, the opposing
position would have been, well, it might fall to
communism, right, because this is the Cold War. But when Steve’s pictures get
out and the story about him gets out and all of these people
that were being tortured by the apartheid state, the
international community begins to change, and what
begins the UN sanctions, and then of course eventually
over the veto of Reagan and the United States begins
to divest from South Africa. So, when we look at what happens
in Egypt and the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, you know, we can really see how
important communications can be. And one of the things
that the report from this organization
points out is there is a list of countries, I think
it’s on this page. If not, you’ll just
have to trust me. But there’s a list of the
countries that they’re watching. Let me see. Let me go down a
little bit here. It’s not on this page. But Egypt is actually
one of them. So, the Egyptian government
has sort of learned its lesson, which is that if you don’t
want to be overthrown by a popular revolution, one of
the things that you might want to do is start putting
restrictions in place on access to these forms of communication. And that’s exactly
what’s occurring in Egypt. So, that is more than just
a little bit disconcerting of course. Again, we can do comparisons. And I love to compare, right? So, if we look here
at the United States, you can see that United
States has a score of 18. Again, the lower the
score, the better. If we look at Canada,
we’re at 16. We don’t have quite as many
countries to compare it too, but certainly better
than France. So, in this particular instance, the United States is relatively
better than compared to some of the other countries
in the world as far as not suppressing
communications like Twitter and all the other
apps you guys use. I don’t know what
the heck they’re for. I’ll have to figure
out eventually. OK. So, let’s look
back over here and let’s move on
to one more site. So, if you don’t trust this
particular organization because you don’t know it and
you’re not familiar with it, well, even the global news
organizations agree it’s getting worse. And so, they’ve actually put
out their own report every year, and we’ll take a look
at their ranking. They actually ranked
countries from one to I think they have 190
countries on their list. And they’ve got a little bit of
a different color scheme here but sort of the same
thing going on. And the counties that are in the lightest yellow are
the countries that they ranked as being the most
free for press. And then, of course, as we
move in to the black zone is where we get the countries
that are the least free. And again, you can see,
anybody want to guess where the United States
falls number wise? So this is I think one
through 190 countries.>>I’m going to say 56.>>Fifty-six I hear
in the middle. I got a lot of pessimists
in this audience.>>Thirty-seven.>>You’re closer, 41, right. So, if we scroll on down here
and we look, you can see– Oops, wrong scroll
one– show you is– you’ll have to trust me that
the United States is 41st. Oh, I might fail. Oh, I’ll just try the
screen [inaudible]. So, the United States is 41st. The– One of the worst countries in the world probably
shouldn’t surprise you. Oops, hold on, kind
of the wrong place. My husband is a geographer and
he laughs at me all the time. There’s one for you. Now, it’s 180. So North Korea comes in 179. And to give you an idea of
how you have to get this low of a score, North Korea
basically has no access to outside news unless
it’s pirated. People who live in the
cities, they, you know, they live in these apartments that are owned by
the government. And the government of North
Korea has propaganda that’s played through the radio or the
television and then the radio in these homes is
played is 24 hours a day. And you can turn it down
but you can’t turn it off. So when I say you can
turn it down, you can turn down the volume so it
doesn’t blare at you, but you can still hear them. And it’s 24 hours
a day propaganda from the government basically
saying how wonderful Kim Jong-un is and how awful the West is
and that all of the problems of the people of North
Korea aren’t the problem of their dear leader
and dear leader’s son, but they’re the problem
of the United States. And so, it’s sometimes
surprising to people, people will say, well,
why do the people of North Korea tolerate
this regime. It’s so awful and
they’re so oppressed. And that’s because they
don’t have a free press. And the only source of
information they have about what’s going
on in the world for most people is coming
from the government. And in this particular case, the
government that doesn’t want you to know what it’s doing
because what it’s doing is really terrible. So again, you know, these are
really important statistics and it helps me to make my
point, which is if you want to have an argument about why
you should have a free press, I think one of the biggest
arguments is fundamentally this. It is not true that when
Hitler came to power, he rounded up everybody’s guns. He rounded up some
guns from Jews, but predominantly they
actually spread guns to Germans. They encouraged Germans
to actually own weapons. What authoritarians
do when they come to power is they take away
the freedom of the press. And because that’s really, in
many cases, it’s the only check on the government that exists. In our country, you know,
we have the three branches. We’ve got the separation
of federalism. We’ve got the public. So we hope all of those things
will work, but our last bastion of defense against the bad
government is the free press. So, anytime you see
a threat to that, you should be really concerned. Because I’m not saying that taking away your guns
wouldn’t be a problem either, but what I am saying is that
historically what has happened in countries that are
authoritarian is the first thing that they do is they
grab the press. Anybody remember Hugo
Chavez, right, in Venezuela, comes to power as a populist
leader, might sound familiar. Promises to deliver on all of
these plans for poor people and provide all of
these services. And of course the first thing
that he does when he gets into office is he begins to
shut down freedom of the press and then he begins
the Constitution to keep himself in power. And then of course, he delivers
on some of those promises but not on most of them. And the only way to get rid of them is contracts
cancer and dies. But again, you can sort
of see this, you know, this pattern throughout
the world. So this is, you know, my
evidence that that is the case. All right, so let’s go
back to our slide show. I love that picture. So, how free is our press? So, while the United States
boasts a vibrant free press, threats to that institution
are everywhere. And so this was a
quote from a journalist who was imprisoned covering
the Donald Trump inauguration. So, I’m going to read it to you. He says, “The United States
is, largely, a good place to be a journalist, with roughly
50,000 people practicing the mostly free of government
repression. But vitriolic statements
from the Trump administration and previously, the Trump
campaign have put press freedom advocates on edge. Trump’s chief strategist,
Steve Bannon, called the media ‘the
opposition party, in a January 25th interview
with The New York Times. But paltry relations
between American government and media didn’t
start with Trump. For years, Reporters
Without Borders, which tracks press freedom
throughout 180 countries, has noted declining
press freedom in the US. Today, it ranks just 41st in
the world, poorer than Ghana, Chile and South Africa. That’s down from three years ago when the US help is still
barely getting by rank of 32.” “In 2014, several reporters
faced police actions while covering protests in Ferguson,
Missouri, one of them, Ryan Devereaux of ‘The
Intercept’ was tear-gassed and shot with a rubber
bullet fired to his arrest.” And this is from Evan Engel. So, I think it’s important that
we note that there are a lot of people are concerned when it
comes to freedom of the press and this current administration. But if you do your
research, you will see that there was actually
a lot of complaints about the Obama administration. And some members of the press
actually said that Obama was one of the worst presidents
they’ve had to deal with in a very long time,
probably going all the way back to Richard Nixon, if
you could imagine. So, this is not something that
we can just sort of pin on Trump and say well, you know,
Trump says a lot of things that Obama might
not say outright, but Obama was doing a
lot of these same things. So, when we’re talking
about Ferguson, of course, we’re talking about the
Obama administration. So, I have a link here. This is from a TED Talk. It’s a short one. TED are these talks that
they put out there, you know, about sort of current events. I think that’s the one anyway. Yeah. So, this is Trevor
Timm and he is talking about this question
that I’m asking, which is how free is our
freedom of the press? I wanted to show that video because I think it’s
really chilling, you know. And to think that we
think we live in a country where the press has so many
freedoms, and of course, we don’t have to downplay it. We’re not China, right? Nobody is suggesting
that we are. But the fact that
even an administration like the Obama administration,
as they said, which ran on protecting
the press, on protecting whistle
blowers, you know, behind the scenes is really
using this national security exception to go after
journalists. And how sad it is that the only
way that you can get sources of information now and be secure
yourself and secure the people who are giving them
to you is to try to stay one step
ahead technologically of the government’s ability
to hack into what it is that everybody is doing. And I know that there’s
probably a lot of mixed feelings about what Edward Snowden did. I have, you know, my own
mixed feelings about that too, because I do think that we
need to balance the right of the public to
know and the fact that this person took an oath
and had security clearance and he wouldn’t– that, you
know, release this information. But that is something that
shouldn’t be held over the heads of journalists, right? This is not something that people should fear
going to prison for. Information is something that should be free
and freely obtained. If the government wants to try
to put prior restraint in place, then they need to go
to court and they need to say this is the reason that
we’re doing it and prove it. If they want to prosecute
somebody like Edward Snowden for violating the law, they
have the right to do that, but they shouldn’t do it by
intimidating journalists. Because when you
intimidate journalists, what you do is you act
like an authoritarian. You put a chilling effect on
the news, which then means that the sources and information
that are available to you and I are much less
likely to be available. So, that’s something we should
also be concerned about. OK. So, why do we
need a free press? Well, I mean that’s
what we’ve been talking about this whole time. But there are few
points to make here. We need a free press so
that the news is not just government propaganda. We need as much information
as we possibly can. Now, I would love to go into the
whole what’s good information and what’s not, fake news, but
other people have been assigned that topic and I’ll
let them cover it. But I still think fundamentally
that we are better off as a society with more
information rather than less. What we need to do though in this new information
age is educate ourselves on how we can become good
consumers of the news. And that’s part of the
reason that we’re doing this. We’ve got to, you know, make sure that when
we see information, that we know who’s
putting it out there, why they’re putting it out
there, what is the purpose, what is the other
side to that debate. And we’re just talking in my American Government
classes today about, you know, this real problem of one side,
having the money and the power to put its information
out there, and the opposite side not having
access to the money to be able to buy free speech, right, especially in the post
Citizens United era. So, we have to be really
careful about that. But I think one of the biggest
dangers that we have right now as a society is that we’ve
sort of gone down this path of false equivalencies. And that’s something I really
want to warn you about. It’s really important
that you understand that when the news is
being fair, it doesn’t mean that it’s being balanced. Sometimes fairness is balance,
presenting both sides equally. But it’s imbalance when
you present both sides of an argument as if they both
have the same amount of evidence and support behind them. So, let me give you an example. We talk about climate
science, for example. This is an area where we
have seen public opinion about climate science
degrading, with more and more people beginning
to believe that climate science is a
hoax, that it’s all being made up by these Ivy League snobs
up in their high towers who just want to have something
to talk and publish about and that it’s not really real. But if you look at
the data, right, and the research that’s
been done on this, 97% of the climate
science experts believe that climate science
is happening. And that to some
degree or another, human beings are engaged in
making– in helping that along. Now, we can argue how much
that’s our fault as opposed to natural tendencies, but
to deny that it’s occurring and to deny that human
beings are affecting it flies in the face of 97%
of scientists. And if you look at the 3% of
scientists who do support it, what you’ll see is that many of them are being
funded by Big Oil. And so, what I would do is I
would go back to, you know, a little stick that– I’m sorry. Why can’t I give this
name again, John?>>[Simultaneously] Oliver.>>Oliver. I want to call him
something else. I don’t know why. John Oliver did where he brought
out Bill Nye the Science Guy. And, you know, Bill’s been
going around sort of– There’s a little joke in my
house because I have a crush on Bill Nye the Science Guy. Don’t tell my husband,
but it’s true. So, Bill Nye the Science Guy
has been going around, you know, sort of, you know,
standing up against all of these climate deniers. But if you ever noticed,
it’s always, here’s Bill Nye and here’s a climate
science denier and we give them both the equal
access as if both points have, you know, equal validity. And so what John Oliver did on
one of his shows is he setup one of these debates where he
started out with Bill Nye and then one of the climate
science deniers, and he said, oh stop, this isn’t fair. And he brought out two people to support the climate science
denier and 96 scientists to support, you know, Bill Nye. And that’s what we really
need to realize, you know. It’s not that bad information
is going around out there and that’s where the problem is. The problem is, is
that we’ve got to be smart consumers
of the news. And so, you know,
that’s really important. So, we want more than just
government propaganda, but we want more than just
one source of information. Number two, a free press
is important during political campaigns. It is critical that citizens
are free to publish their ideas and read the ideas
of others in order for self-government to succeed. We just had– So, I just
moved to LaSalle from Ottawa. This is my first election, local
election living in LaSalle. And I don’t know
how to vote for. I didn’t. It’s– And actually,
as it turns out, I didn’t need to because other
than the IVCC board, which I did know how I wanted
to vote because I work here, there were no contested
elections. So, it was really easy
for me to just fill in those circles, right? My husband chose
not to vote then. But I figured, if
you’re going to run and nobody is challenging you,
I guess I’ll fill in the circle. But how do you get that
information, right? We talk about this in my
American Government class. We call those low
information elections. You know, it’s a lot easier
for people to know how to vote when there’s a party
label attached. But if there’s not a
party label attached, where do we get information
about these candidates? And the reality is that
it’s hard to come by. Now, some of our local
reporters, I’m sure, do a good job of trying
to interview people and send them out
questionnaires. But oftentimes when you
read those interviews and those questionnaires, you
get the kind of canned responses that I get when I ask people who
are running for the IVCC board. So, why are you running
to be on the IVCC board? And I get answers like, “Oh, because IVCC is just a
great place and I just want to help out and do my part.” Well, OK, wonderful, but I need to know a little more
information than that. That’s hard to come by. So, you know, we
really need to make sure that we’ve got a free
press that’s putting out as much information about
election so that we know who it is that we’re voting
for and how we want to vote. A free press allows for
freedom of expression. And that’s really
key in our society. We protect– I always say to my
students, we protect all speech, but we really protect the
speech we hate the most because it’s what needs
protecting, right? So, you know, I talked
about these, you know, people who belonged to this
Westboro Baptist Church, right? Are you familiar
with these people? You know, these are
not nice people. You know, this is a– now
since past but, you know, this is not really
even a church. It’s just sort of a group
of people and they go around the country and,
you know, they protest at soldier’s funerals
and they hold up signs. They’re not protesting
in favor of the soldiers. They are protesting
that they’re dead. They’re glad that they’re dead because they died
defending a “bad” country. And they’re really– they
say really awful things and they’re really horrible. And I was at Northern
Illinois University the day the shootings happened. And they were going
to come protest there and there were a lot
of people who said, oh, we don’t want them here. And I didn’t want them there
either, but they have the right to speak their mind, right? And we have the right to listen
to it or not to listen to it, but they have the right
to speak their mind. And that’s part of what
freedom of expression is about. And finally, a free press holds
the government accountable to the people. And that is something that we
really should not overlook. We– You cannot understand– I’ve lived in authoritarian
countries before. I lived in Czechoslovakia after
the fall of the Soviet Union, while they were transitioning to
a democracy, but it was anything but democratic when
I lived there. And if you’ve never lived
in authoritarian country or visited one, you don’t know
the really chilling effect that that has on you until you
walk down the streets and with, you know, soldiers standing with guns randomly checking
your status and questioning, and people saying don’t
talk to people on the phone about sensitive information because you don’t know what’s
being listened to or having to pay a bribe, that I
didn’t know I had to pay to get food on a train. And when you live in an
authoritarian society, one of the biggest
currencies is information. People are so desperate
for information because they don’t have it. So, it was surprising
to me, two things. One, they were desperate for
dollars and I have those. But the second thing is people
wanted to know what was going on in the outside world. What’s America really like? You’ll hear that it’s like this. What is it like to
travel to other places? How does your system
of government function? They’re so desperate
for information because they’ve been
starved from it. And so, in a society in
which we have a free press, we have that liberty, we
have that information. And so, whether we like what
it is that someone is saying or not, we should protect it because that’s an
important part of being true. So, before I move
on to any questions or comments you might have
because I’m certainly not, you know, the living expert
on everything free press, I’ll just leave you
with this quote from Benjamin Franklin
which, by the way, I looked at like 15
different sources to make sure that this really was
Benjamin Franklin’s quote. I’ll tell you, I was at this
conference two weeks ago and it was actually being
put on by Stony Brook and it was about the media. And he put up a quote. It was a really good program. But he put up a quote and he attributed it
to Winston Churchill. And I knew right away that the
quote could not had possibly come from Winston Churchill because the quote
was something like, a lie will make it all halfway around the world before
the truth has a chance to put its pants on. Well, having lived in
England, the word pants to the British means
underwear, and there is no way that Winston Churchill said
before you have a chance to put your underwear on. So I said, I think that
that might actually be Samuel Clemons. I think it might be Mark Twain. But we had to check it. So, I checked this and I
think this is a good quote to leave us on. So “whoever would overthrow the
liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness
of speech.” And so, that is what
I will leave you, so.

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