Governor Palin’s Defense of Freedom of the Press

If you want to anger a conservative, lie to them. If you want to anger a liberal, tell them the truth.

Governor Palin, as a fierce defender of the Constitution and as former journalist, has stood consistently for the freedoms noted in the First Amendment. When Governor Palin stepped aside from the public office nearly 15 months ago, she spoke of her support of freedom of the press:

Together we stand with gratitude for the troops who protect all our cherished freedoms. This includes our First Amendment guaranteed freedom of speech – which, par for the course – I shall exercise. First, with some “straight talk,” I will address some, just some, in the media because another right that is protected is the freedom of the press. You have such important jobs reporting facts and informing the electorate and exerting power to influence. You represent what could and should be a respected and honest profession that could and should be a cornerstone of our democracy. Democracy depends on you. That is why our troops are willing to die for you. So, how about in honor of the American soldier you quit making things up. And don’t underestimate the wisdom of the American people.

Last Spring, when Governor Palin was named to Time Magazine’s 100 List, she spoke to the press and to attendees:

Sarah, on the other hand, was happy to be in a room with so many reporters — particularly Time‘s Joe Klein, of whom she is a fan — so she could set the record straight. “I did talk to a couple of reporters already and said that a bunch of stuff that they write is bogus, but we had a great conversation about it and we agreed to disagree on a lot of things,” she said. “One thing we can all agree on, though, is how much we respect and want to protect the freedom of the press and we have that in common, so at the end of the day, I think as long as we’re protecting that and not abusing the right — we have to be writing truth — then we’ll get along just fine tonight.”


As if to drive home the point, Palin reiterated her great respect for journalism in her public “toast” to those who influence her, a Time 100 dinner tradition. “I want to make a toast to all at this press event who agree with Thomas Jefferson, who said that our liberty depends on the freedom of the press,” she said. “So I want to lift a glass to those who defend that freedom. Our finest, the men and women in uniform who defend that freedom, our Constitution, and our exceptional way of life in America.”

Yesterday, Governor Palin wrote in response of NPR’s firing of Juan Williams:

I don’t expect Juan Williams to support me (he’s said some tough things about me in the past) – but I will always support his right and the right of all Americans to speak honestly about the threats this country faces. And for Juan, speaking honestly about these issues isn’t just his right, it’s his job. Up until yesterday, he was doing that job at NPR. Firing him is their loss.

In her pointed and appropriate criticism of the media, she never once has called for anyone to be fired. She never called for anyone to be censored. She never even asked for criticism to be halted. She never accused any particular networks of being “destructive to the country” like others have done. She has even supported those who have been critical and even completely disrespectful to her on occasion such as Juan Williams. She has supported the right for a radio commenter, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, to speak freely, even when Schlessinger questioned the Governor’s decision to run for VP as a mother of five children.

Governor Palin has only asked for honest and truthful reporting. She has called for journalists to take their jobs seriously. She has called for them to embrace, not abuse, their freedom of the press. Increasingly, the lines between news and commentary are being blurred. Too often, what is being portrayed as “news” is an editorial in actuality. Too often, anonymous sources are portrayed as legitimate, and a lot of people named ” someone close to the Palin camp” are quoted in news stories. Too often easily debunked lies are attempted to be portrayed as truth, such as Politico’s most recent hit piece against the Governor. Claims made in that “news” story were quickly refudiated by Mark Levin, Glenn Beck, Senator Grassley and Representative King, and the Southern Republican Leadership Committee.

The quote at the beginning of this post encompasses the Governor’s response to this and other hit pieces. What upset Governor Palin as a conservative is when the press lies. Yesterday, she didn’t even express frustration about the press lying about her, but about others:

Johnny, Johnny, Johnny…ya just made big mistake lying about Levin, Beck, Rush…U can lie about me, but taking on the Big Guns? Not smart

Governor Palin is critical of the media, often dubbing them the “lamestream media”. However, she never calls for them to be shut down or silenced. She simply responds to their exercise of the first amendment by exercising her own. The press has consistently bemoaned that Governor Palin does not speak to them or circumvents them by using social media. A private citizen, even if they are a public figure, holds no obligation to the press. However, the press holds an obligation to the public, especially when that press is funded by the public. NPR had no problems firing Juan Williams over his comments about Muslims, but had no qualms with their “journalists” presenting a lesson on how to speak “teabagger”. They had no problems with a commentator hoping for a GOP Senator and his grandkids to get AIDS.

Governor Palin has been attacked on every side. Her ever move turns into a PDS sufferer concocted “gate”: bus-gate, visor-gate, socialized medicine gate, palm-gate, bendy straw gate, and eye roll gate, just to name a few. The media has accepted, as truth, information from a site questioning Governor Palin as Trig’s mom. More than three times as many “fact checkers” were dedicated to her first book than the “climategate”email scandals. In the most recent Politico piece, the author drags out an old meme that Governor Palin can defy the laws of physics by physically appearing at every possible campaign event to which she was invited. This, of course, conflicts with the meme that her endorsements are so toxic that no one wants to embrace them, but corroborates with the “defiance of physics” meme that made it possible for Governor Palin to travel back in time to ban books before they were written.

Governor Palin has only called for the truth to reported. She has not called for the media to agree with her political viewpoints. She has called for them to purveyors of the truth and to be transparent when they are presenting opinion. She has called them a “cornerstone of our democracy” and has stated that “our liberty depends on freedom of the press”. In spite of all of the lies of the press, she is their defender. Governor Palin remains a simultaneous defender of the press and of the truth.

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