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Bloggers, Journalists, and the First Amendment

"Bloggers. Showing up at the national political conventions, even at the White House press room. But are bloggers journalists? And do they deserve the same First Amendment protections?"

That's the lede I heard flipping through channels. It got my attention. But — Arrr!! — it looks like this will be the very last story on the program (Fox Report). While waiting for the real story, I couldn't help but think of the response of Charles Babbage (19th-century inventor of mechanical computers):

On two occasions, I have been asked [by members of Parliament], "Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?" I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.

The issue, you see, is that the First Amendment doesn't grant any special protections to journalists. It applies to all citizens equally. It prevents Congress from "abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press" — but these are the same thing. Even if they weren't, my computer is a press, affording me both the freedoms of speech and of the press.

I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could lead a "Real Journalist" to think he and his press should have legal privileges that I and my press should not.


… it wasn't quite the last story on the program. And it was pretty dumb. The MSM's constant complaining that blogs don't have oversight and accountability is wearing pretty thin given how many times blogs have exposed bias and errors in MSM reporting.

Oddly, at the end, the program did admit the First Amendment applies to bloggers too. Doesn't this make the whole story pointless? Why even air it?


Arr! I'd post this, but my host is having some technical difficulties. Sigh. Eventually, it'll get through…

Tiny Island