First Amendment free speech FREEDOM OF THE PRESS Intelwars Libel and defamation Libel laws Us district court

In incredible dissent, federal judge launches broadside attack on SCOTUS precedent protecting left-wing press

A federal judge called for a landmark Supreme Court decision on freedom of the press and libel laws to be overturned in a fiery dissent decrying “bias against the Republican Party,” blasting the near “one-party control” of legacy news media, slamming Silicon Valley’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story, and warning that the current state of American media is “a threat to a viable democracy.”

U.S. Circuit Judge Laurence H. Silberman, a Reagan appointee, launched a broad attack on the Supreme Court’s unwillingness to revisit precedent and the news media in a dissent in Tah v. Global Witnessa defamation case. After arguing against the court majority’s ruling on the merits of the case, Silberman was “prompted to urge the overruling of New York Times v. Sullivan” — a landmark ruling that established what a plaintiff must show to prove a claim of defamation or libel made against a publisher.

Silberman described that ruling, which has made it extraordinarily difficult for an individual to successfully sue the press for false reporting, as a “policy-driven decision masquerading as constitutional law” that “badly constitutionalized an area of law refined over centuries of common law adjudication.”

Acknowledging that the Supreme Court is unlikely to reverse its opinion, he nevertheless said “new considerations have arisen over the last 50 years that make the New York Times decision a threat to American Democracy. It must go.”

New York Times v. Sullivan is a Civil Rights-era decision that established additional First Amendment protections for the press against lawsuits for defamation or libel.

In the 1960s, the New York Times published a full-page advertisement soliciting donations for the legal defense of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who had been charged with perjury. The ad contained several factual inaccuracies and claims that police in Montgomery, Alabama, had locked civil rights demonstrators in a college campus dining room “in an attempt to starve [the students] into submission,” among other threats of violence. Montgomery Public Safety Commissioner L.B. Sullivan — who was not named in the advertisement but was in charge of the police force — sued the Times for defamation in a case that was litigated up to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously for the New York Times in a decision that was influenced in part by the practice of southern officials threatening northern newspapers reporting on civil rights abuses with lawsuits to silence them.

The court established a test for defamation or libel claims, ruling that the First Amendment requires a plaintiff to show that the defendant had acted with “actual malice,” that he knew that a published statement was false or was reckless in deciding to publish that information without investigating whether it was accurate.

“One can understand, if not approve, the Supreme Court’s policy-driven decision. There can be no doubt that the New York Times case has increased the power of the media,” Silberman wrote. “Although the institutional press, it could be argued, needed that protection to cover the civil rights movement, that power is now abused.”

“As the case has subsequently been interpreted, it allows the press to cast false aspersions on public figures with near impunity. It would be one thing if this were a two-sided phenomenon,” the judge continued, observing that the press “more often manufactures scandals involving political conservatives.”

“The increased power of the press is so dangerous today because we are very close to one-party control of these institutions,” he warned.

Silberman goes on to state that “bias against the Republican Party” is long-standing, blasting the New York Times and the Washington Post as “virtually Democratic Party broadsheets.” He calls other news outlets including the Associated Press, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and Boston Globe, along with “nearly all television — network and cable” “a Democratic Party trumpet.”

He further decried the “enormous influence” that Silicon Valley exerts over the distribution of the news, saying “it similarly filters news delivery in ways favorable to the Democratic Party.” He cited Facebook and Twitter’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story as proof of “viewpoint discrimination.”

“Ideological homogeneity in the media — or in the channels of information distribution — risks repressing certain ideas from the public consciousness just as surely as if access were restricted by the government,” Silberman wrote.

He concluded: “It should be borne in mind that the first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news. It is fair to conclude, therefore, that one-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy. It may even give rise to countervailing extremism. The First Amendment guarantees a free press to foster a vibrant trade in ideas. But a biased press can distort the marketplace. And when the media has proven its willingness—if not eagerness—to so distort, it is a profound mistake to stand by unjustified legal rules that serve only to enhance the press’ power.”

Cable providers First Amendment Fox News FREEDOM OF THE PRESS Intelwars Letter NewsMax Oann

Democrats’ ‘chilling’ letter demands cable providers account for ‘misinformation’ and ‘lies’ from ‘right-wing media outlets’ they carry

Two Democratic members of Congress penned letters Monday to a dozen cable providers demanding they account for “misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy theories, and lies” from “right-wing media outlets” they carry — and the networks specifically named were Fox News, Newsmax, and One America News Network.

What are the details?

The letters from U.S. Reps. Anna Eshoo and Jerry McNerney, both of California, were addressed to AT&T, Verizon, Roku, Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Charter, Dish, Cox, Altice, Alphabet, and Hulu. The letters leveled numerous accusations against the aforementioned news networks, including that their coverage helped the “radicalization of seditious individuals who committed acts of insurrection on January 6” at the U.S. Capitol.

“Some purported news outlets have long been misinformation rumor mills and conspiracy theory hotbeds that produce content that leads to real harm,” the letters said. “Misinformation on TV has led to our current polluted information environment that radicalizes individuals to commit seditious acts and rejects public health best practices, among other issues in our public discourse.”

Citing “experts” who claim “the right-wing media ecosystem is ‘much more susceptible…to disinformation, lies, and half-truths,'” the letters said “right-wing media outlets” like Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN “all aired misinformation about the November 2020 elections.” The letters also accused the networks of “spreading misinformation related to the pandemic.”

What do the Democrats want?

Eshoo and McNerney demanded in their letters that cable providers explain “what moral or ethical principles (including those related to journalistic integrity, violence, medical information, and public health) do you apply in deciding which channels to carry or when to take adverse actions against a channel?”

The letters also asked the cable providers to detail what steps they’ve taken to “monitor, respond to, and reduce the spread of disinformation” from news networks they carry, as well as any punitive measures they’ve taken against such channels — and if they plan to carry networks like Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN once contracts expire.

The letters were penned ahead of a hearing set Wednesday — “Fanning the Flames: Disinformation and Extremism in the Media” — to be hosted by a subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, on which Eshoo and McNerney sit, CNBC reported.

What was the reaction?

Fox News told CNBC in a statement that “as the most watched cable news channel throughout 2020, FOX News Media provided millions of Americans with in-depth reporting, breaking news coverage and clear opinion. For individual members of Congress to highlight political speech they do not like and demand cable distributors engage in viewpoint discrimination sets a terrible precedent.”

CNBC said Comcast declined to comment, and representatives for the other cable providers to which letters were addressed didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

Republican Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr called the letters a “chilling transgression of the free speech rights that every media outlet in this country enjoys,” CBNC said, adding that Carr’s fellow Republican Commissioner Nathan Simington reacted similarly.

“The Majority is flirting with violating the First Amendment,” a GOP aide for the House Energy and Commerce Committee told CNBC in a statement. “Should the government be pressuring private industries to censor legally protected content and suppress the freedom of the press? No. If a free and independent press is still valued and mainstream in America, this censorship campaign should alarm every single journalist and member of the media.”

Haven’t we seen this movie before?

The Democrats’ letters mirror CNN’s assertion last month that cable providers should “face questions for lending their platforms to dishonest companies that profit off of disinformation and conspiracy theories” — and again the three named were Fox News, Newsmax, and OANN.

CNN’s Brian Stelter has been on the aforementioned warpath of late, specifically saying a few weeks back that “liar” Fox News’ influence must be reduced through a “harm reduction model” — which he said isn’t censorship. Later Stelter interviewed a Democratic congresswoman who called for a “truth commission” to root out “extremist ideology” so Americans can mouth a “common narrative.”

In his chat with freshman U.S. Rep. Sara Jacobs of California, Stelter decried the “impact of cellphones and this constant connectivity, social networks and far-right television networks” — all of which he said are “fueling a fire” of extremism.

Antifa First Amendment FREEDOM OF THE PRESS Intelwars journalist Physical attack Protests Sacramento watch

Five Antifa scumbags gang up on man, beat him silly — and their ‘comrades’ demand reporter not record attack

Washington, D.C., and
Washington state weren’t the only flash points of Antifa thuggery over the weekend.

The black-clad leftists — who gaslight us with their self-described “anti-fascist” credo while engaging in blatantly fascist violence, bullying, and intimidation against anyone who gets in their way with few consequences — decided they would flex their muscles in Sacramento, California.

What happened?

The Proud Boys were protesting there Saturday, and Scott Rodd — the state government reporter for CapRadio News — was there to
document the violence when Antifa decided to join the fray.

Rodd noted in a Twitter
thread that “today was the most violent of any protest in downtown Sacramento since the election. Mace, batons, fisticuffs. A guy even pulled out a katana.” A katana is a Japanese sword with a curved, single-edged blade used for slashing and stabbing — and yes, turns out an Antifa militant was brandishing the Samurai weapon, although Rodd referred to him as a “man on [the] counter-protest side.”

One of the most draw-dropping of Rodd’s clips
showed what he said was a “man with a baton” who was “verbally antagonizing the group of counter protesters” — i.e., Antifa.

And how did the Antifa militants handle the verbal slights? “A number of them rushed him in an alley and beat him,” Rodd wrote. It appears to be a five-against-one gang-up — Antifa aren’t known for fighting one on one:

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @SRodd_CPR

They seem nice.

But that wasn’t all. “Multiple counter-protesters blocked me and demanded I not film,” Rodd added in his tweet. “I said (through a gas mask) I’m press and just doing my job.”

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @SRodd_CPR

“Do not film! Do not film! Do not film this!” one leftist is heard hollering at Rodd while black umbrellas attempt to block him from recording.

When the beating ends, Rodd captures the image of the victim sprawled on the concrete and struggling to stand:

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @SRodd_CPR

Image source: Twitter video screenshot via @SRodd_CPR

Here’s the clip:

One might assume if our anti-fascist friends weren’t up to anything violent or illegal — you know, like if they were sitting down over beers and coming together as one with conservatives in their post-election euphoria so we can build back better or something — they wouldn’t be demanding that journalists refrain from documenting their actions.

This blatant prevention of First Amendment-protected reporting is an ongoing MO with Antifa and other violent leftist groups such as Black Lives Matter. We saw it in broad daylight in Portland, Oregon, last week when a
gang of militant leftists bullied and physically attacked a Portland TV news reporter and videographer who dared enter their “autonomous zone” — and then kicked them out.

Still, there are plenty of folks still demanding cover for Antifa lawlessness, like one guy who warned Rodd that “there can be legal consequences for their comrades if you get too close [with a video camera]. It’s a thin line. I have no respect for snitches disguised as journalists. Respect earns respect and trust earns trust.”

But another Twitter user wasn’t having any of it and shot back, “If your comrades aren’t violating LAWS, then there wouldn’t be LEGAL consequences! Freedom of the press is a fundamental right, protected by the constitution. If their actions put them in legal jeopardy, thats 100% on them!”

First Amendment FREEDOM OF THE PRESS Intelwars Left-wing protesters Minneapolis Newspaper photographer Star-tribune Threat

Photographer for major paper says protesters ordered him ‘no more pictures,’ threatened to destroy his equipment — and it appears he obeyed

Antifa and other violent left-wing protesters and rioters say they’re against fascists. But we’ve seen time and time again through their behavior that they’re truly the fascists. One look at what went down in Minneapolis on Thursday night is a prime example.

What happened?

A staff photographer with the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper wrote that protesters in ordered him to take “no more pictures” and threatened to steal and destroy his equipment if he didn’t fall in line:

“Protesters chanting ‘no more pictures’ as they march along S. 4th Street along US Bank Stadium,” Aaron Lavinsky wrote. “An organizer just came up to me demanding I turn my cameras off. She threatened to snatch my camera [from] me if I didn’t comply.”

And in the end it appears Lavinsky did just that.

“Folks, I’m backing off,” he added in a follow-up tweet. “Multiple people threatening to take and break my cameras. Been berated most of the night by a small group of organizers and anarchists.”

Lavinsky send subsequent messages noting that while some protesters were fine with him being there it’s “unfortunate that not all value the free press.”

Here’s one of the videos Lavinsky recorded for the Star Tribune’s story:

The paper’s piece — for which Lavinsky shares a byline — noted that Minneapolis police faced off with about 100 people who “gathered … to protest local and national issues.”

Besides “no more pictures,” the Star Tribune said other chants included, “No justice, no peace, kill all the police” and “Die, Donald Trump.”

Lavinsky’s run-in with the mob was documented in the story as well: “Some protesters shouted at a Star Tribune photographer, telling him to stop taking photos and threatening to take cameras away. They chanted, ‘No more pictures,’ as they walked.”

How did folks respond to the photographer’s tweets?

A couple of commenters seemed sympathetic to the protesters:

  • “This is for their own safety,” one commenter wrote. “You can actually endanger them by creating video/photo evidence.”
  • “Yeah dude you need to make sure you don’t accidentally photograph someone in an identifiable way,” another commenter said, soon adding that “you could cause a lot of problems for them including death.”

But it seems most responders weren’t happy with the fascist threats:

  • “Be safe,” one commenter implored. “Is the @StarTribune still going to call this a peaceful protest? Or are they going to call a spade a spade for once?”
  • “Fascist liberal bastards,” another commenter wrote. “What is happening in Louisville, Portland, Seattle, New York, and Washington DC is Joe Biden’s America. This is what will happen nationwide if Biden is elected.”
  • “What more proof is needed that these are not protests,” another commenter added. “In a real protest the protestors want video to spread their message. Only people that plan on criminal activity demand videos be shut off. #MAGA2020.”
  • “We can’t back down. This is what Communism looks like,” another commenter said. “What next? We will be told what books we can read and which ones we can’t? Checkpoints? Guard tower’s?? We fought to hard against the Soviets to have it end up in our own country. We need to wake up!!!
Censorship China Coronavirus FREEDOM OF THE PRESS Intelwars journalism Wall Street Journal

China expels Wall Street Journal reporters — including one covering coronavirus — over ‘Sick Man in Asia’ opinion column

China has expelled three Wall Street Journal reporters in response to an opinion article the outlet published titled, “China is the Real Sick Man in Asia” — even though none of the reporters being punished had anything to do with the article, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Chao Deng, Josh Chin, and Philip Wen were given five days to leave the country after having their press card revoked by the government. Chao had been on the ground in Wuhan covering the extent of the coronavirus outbreak and how it was impacting the lives of residents.

Chinese spokesman Geng Shuang said the WSJ headline was an insult to China’s efforts to fight coronavirus, and said it carried racist connotations.

“The Chinese people do not welcome those media that speak racially discriminatory languages,” Geng said.

The Times explained the background of the “sick man” reference, and why it could be viewed with particular offense by China:

The term “sick man of Asia” was a reference to Qing Dynasty China in the late 19th and 20th centuries, when it suffered both internal divisions and imperial exploitation from both Western countries and Japan, and eventually collapsed.

The phrase mirrors the “sick man of Europe” term used to describe the Ottoman Empire in decline. “Sick man” has been commonly used in Western media to describe other countries in crisis, including the United States.

But in China, the “sick man” phrase has also been read as a derogatory description of Chinese people as inherently inferior, disease-ridden beings.

The Feb. 2 opinion piece was written by Walter Russell Mead, a professor at Bard College, and explored the financial and medical impact of coronavirus.

The headline probably wasn’t the only — and possibly not even the primary — reason China decided to punish the American journalists. One day before the expulsion, the U.S. State Department designated five Chinese state-run media organizations as “foreign missions.” All five outlets have significant U.S. operations, and the designation will require them to report personnel and property ownership to the State Department.

Geng expressed China’s disapproval with the move.

“Media play an important role like a bridge or bond facilitating communication and understanding. … We urge the U.S. to discard its ideological prejudice and Cold War zero-sum game mentality, and stop ill-advised measures that undermine bilateral trust,” he said Wednesday, according to the Times.

China has a history of stirring up nationalism and anti-Western feelings in the country to distract from crises, the Times noted, and the Journal writers’ expulsion is very likely intended as a warning to other foreign media outlets that, if their work does not meet the approval of the Chinese government, they may face they same fate.

The Wall Street Journal issued a statement in response to China’s expulsion of its reporters.