Is Putin a Journalist?

A Senate panel offers an official definition.

James Taranto
The Wall Street Journal

“A Senate panel on Thursday approved a measure defining a journalist,” the Associated Press reports. It’s part of a proposed “shield” bill, which would create an extraconstitutional privilege at law that would limit federal courts’ authority to compel testimony about confidential sources and information.

The Judiciary Committee approved the shield bill after answering the question of who exactly would be entitled to its privilege:

The vote was 13-5 for a compromise defining a “covered journalist” as an employee, independent contractor or agent of an entity that disseminates news or information. The individual would have been employed for one year within the last 20 or three months within the last five years.

It would apply to student journalists or someone with a considerable amount of freelance work in the last five years. A federal judge also would have the discretion to declare an individual a “covered journalist,” who would be granted the privileges of the law.

Opponents of the measure offered two objections. One is to the way the panel answered the question: “Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., complained that the definition of a journalist was too broad.” The other is to the question itself, as reported by the Hill:

“The remedy that this legislation seeks to provide is to differentiate between different types of journalists and to determine in the Congress’s mind who’s legitimate and who’s not legitimate,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), a critic.

Cornyn said Congress shouldn’t pick and choose who’s protected by the First Amendment.

“The First Amendment makes no such differentiation,” he said. “It talks about a free press, and we would say you’re a member of the free press if you meet certain legislative criteria and if you don’t, you’re not.”…


The article continues at The Wall Street Journal.


H/T Instapundit, where Professor Reynolds wrote:

It’s crony constitutionalism. The First Amendment isn’t about freedom for the institutional press — it’s about freedom to publish. It’s a lousy law, designed to reward insiders and marginalize outsiders.

UPDATE: Reader Lee Murrah writes: “Under the proposed definition of journalist, Thomas Paine would not have qualified.” Yes. I don’t think that’s by accident.



Related: Mr. Bo Snerdley speaks out:  Rush Limbaugh Producer: Mainstream Media Want to Take Down Champions of Conservatism

…”If the great fighters are taken out, then the fight can be dismantled,” he said, noting that sometimes the left aims to constantly put conservatives “under siege” and lies about and smears them in order to discourage the Americans for whom they are fighting.

“The left is relentless; they don’t give up,” he said. “Any story that has a political implication, they’re there.” He said the left is trying to populate “whatever media source you’re going to,” and the mainstream media try to “make it appear that the majority opinion is their opinion” when in fact it often is not, which he said was the case with Obamacare…



Update: ‘Disgusting’: Matt Drudge Blasts Senator Feinstein for Trying to Define Journalist

Internet news pioneer Matt Drudge on Friday issued a scathing criticism of a Senate bill that will provide a narrow definition of the term journalist.

Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein insisted on liming protections for a new “media shield” law to “real reporters” and not that of a hypothetical 17-year old with his or her own website.

“I can’t support it if everyone who has a blog has a special privilege … or if Edward Snowden were to sit down and write this stuff, he would have a privilege. I’m not going to go there,” she reportedly said.

Drudge, publisher of the popular Drudge Report, turned to his personal twitter account to vocally express his opposition to the bill….


Read the tweets here.



Update 2:  Latest target: free speech and alternative media

…Free speech came under direct attack when Elena Kagan was nominated for the U.S. Supreme Court. Kagan had written in the recent past that the government has a “right” to silence free speech when it has “an overriding need” to do so.

But no one defined “overriding need,” meaning that the decision would be arbitrary on the part of whoever happened to be in the White House at the time.

It therefore comes as no surprise that the collectivists/progressives among Democrats in Congress decided to put teeth to the threats of the Obama administration to go after citizens and bloggers who dare speak the truth about the shenanigans in government…



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