Saturday, November 1, 2008

Palin: Media Criticism of My Criticism = First Amendment Violation

The Wall Street Journal's Law Blog has picked up on the latest Palin Constitutional "interpretation." Palin asserts that: “If [the media] convince enough voters that that is negative campaigning, for me to call Barack Obama out on his associations then I don’t know what the future of our country would be in terms of First Amendment rights and our ability to ask questions without fear of attacks by the mainstream media.”

There are more problems with this statement than warrant discussion in a non-academic context. Suffice it to say this:

The First Amendment is in no way implicated here. The First Amendment protects private citizens (which describes, and will continue after Nov. 4 to describe, Sarah Palin) from government suppression of speech. Note -- *government* suppression of speech. If Palin wants to temper her idiotic comments because the media pick up on them, she's entitled to do so, and from McCain's perspective, she's probably wise to do so. (In fact, one is reminded of the Twain quotation: Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.). But the media are not infringing on her First Amendment rights. That claim makes absolutely no sense. A statement like this is an appeal to the misinformed.

Palin said that when the media call her incessant comments about Ayers and Wright "going negative," they are chilling her speech. She made no comment about being libeled or slandered. She only whined that the "mainstream media" and "Washington elitism" have "attacked" her by referring to her statements as "going negative." Palin has an incredibly warped view of that the First Amendment is all about.

The First Amendment does not protect Palin -- a would-be government official -- from this sort of legitimate media statement. See, e.g., New York Times v. Sullivan. If she can't handle criticism of her public statements, how can she possibly have the strength of character to be VPOTUS? This isn't Alabama in the 60s. The media are supposed to perform a "watchdog" function and keep us informed of what our leaders and putitive leaders are doing and saying.

What the media are doing here is, quite simply, their job.

Palin: Media Criticism of My Criticism = First Amendment Violation

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