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Roger Helle / January 22, 2020

Free Speech and Fake News

False reporting and deliberate lying will only cause our country to be more divided.

“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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” —U.S. Constitution

Our Constitution is unlike any other. It guarantees American citizens rights and freedoms that were not seen anywhere in the civilized world when it was established. Freedom of the press was guaranteed, as was free speech. In protecting both free speech and freedom of the press, I doubt our Founders could have imagined the state we find ourselves in today with our media.

For three years now major media outlets have complained about how President Donald Trump calls them “fake news.” Yet they follow up by constantly speaking and printing “fake news,” totally failing to see why the public perception of the media is falling into the toilet. Let me give you just one recent example, as space does not allow me to detail the fake news stories from just this month alone.

Monday saw thousands of Second Amendment supporters (approximately 20,000) gather around the Virginia State Capital. The governor, based on “intelligence” (apparently not his), declared a state of emergency due to the threat of violence. As it turns out, there was no violence, but regular folks, including minorities, showed up to express their concern about the proposed gun laws being considered by Virginia legislators. Police were present but not in huge numbers that I could see on TV.

If you watched CNN, CBS, or MSNBC that day, you would have thought, at any minute, there would be violence, bloodshed, and a mass KKK white supremacist riot. According to these pundits, heavily equipped and armed riot police were tensely waiting for the violence to break out. CBS reported there had been violence all week in advance of the rally. There was not!

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell fretted about the mob of white supremacists that would show up, resulting in another Charlottesville racist riot. I could go on, but you see where I’m going with this. How can citizens know when they’re being told fact and not hyperbole or outright lies? We need freedom of the press to have a free society. But what happens when the media abuses that power?

It goes beyond their hatred of President Trump. It undermines the safety and security of our country. Media talkingheads tell everyone that police are bad and then we have police being assaulted and killed while just trying to do their jobs. Even worse, it makes our nation look weak to our enemies. That’s never a good thing. Many of us grew up getting our news from the major networks. Today, you do so at your own peril. On any given day you can turn channel to channel and they all say the same thing. It’s an echo chamber. It would be funny if it were not so critical to our future.

Free speech also needs to be truthful and factual. False reporting and deliberate lying regarding facts will only cause our country to be more divided. Maybe that’s why they’re doing it.

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