No one appreciates or advocates for the First Amendment more ardently than we do.
Especially remembering that the amendment’s 45 glorious words include the protection of five basic human freedoms, not just freedom of speech or the press; they also include freedom of religion, along with the right to assemble and petition the government.
We would remind our friends on the left, particularly in Hollywood, of that little fact – and the fact that it’s freedom of religion, not of speech or press, that is under assault in the courts, thanks largely to the prior administration.
Hollywood stars Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep are to be applauded for their captivating roles in the new film The Post, retelling the tale of one of the press’ finest hours – the battle to publish the secret Pentagon Papers on the government’s deceptions over prosecution of the Vietnam War.
But Hanks has said he wouldn’t attend a screening of The Post with the president. And Streep carried a purse with the Obamas emblazoned on it.
It must be said, their liberal angst toward President Trump’s media criticism – while simultaneously giving the Obama administration a pass on press freedom – is wholly misplaced and misguided.
While we would agree with them that Mr. Trump is over the top in his criticism of the media, the truth is there have been rather egregious errors and overzealous attacks of him in so-called “mainstream” media outlets.
Among other mistakes, CNN reported that Donald Trump Jr. had received a heads-up on Hillary Clinton-related emails from Wikileaks before their release to the public. Not true. ABC’s Brian Ross reported Trump Sr. had asked Gen. Michael Flynn to contact Russian officials during the 2016 campaign. Not true. Ross was suspended. A Post reporter distributed a photo designed to make a Trump rally crowd look smaller than it was. There are other examples.
The president, though overdone and overbroad in his criticism, has legitimate reasons for concern about the fairness of the reporting on him.
In contrast, an objective reading of history to this point leaves utterly no doubt that President Obama – whom the makers of The Post lionize – was a disaster when it came to press freedoms. The press has had to admit as much.
His administration was actually caught red-handed spying on the Associated Press – and his Department of Justice even concocted a scheme to name a Fox News reporter a “criminal co-conspirator” under the Espionage Act of 1917 just to get access to his personal emails and phone records.
Can you imagine the hue and cry – which might emanate from Hollywood – were the Trump administration guilty of such blatant attacks on press freedoms?
Under Obamacare, the government has tried to force religious groups to violate their conscience by providing employees with birth control and abortion-inducing drugs.
The Obama IRS harassed and delayed conservative groups from expressing themselves during the 2012 presidential campaign.
Early on, Mr. Obama tried to deny Fox News access to his administration, declaring it was not really a news organization – until even CNN locked arms to protect Fox against the president.
And, says one report, “The Obama administration rejected more Freedom of Information Act requests than any administration in history.”
So which is worse? Trump’s rhetoric? Or Obama’s actual attacks on First Amendment freedoms?
Let’s have some perspective here.