By Rich Lowry
The Hendricks County Flyer
Tue May 21, 2013, 03:59 PM EDT
Yet few in the press are interested in nuance. Appealing for calm, Carney said the president believes in an “unfettered ability to pursue investigative journalism,” but that there should be “balance.” The implicit reaction of journalists was: “Balance? Don’t give us any stinkin’ balance. Give us our rights.”
In this, the reporters exhibited a healthy impulse toward vigilance about liberty. The phrase “chilling effect” has been bandied about often. A chill comes not necessarily from what government is doing to you but from what it might do to you.
Very few reporters will ever have their records subpoenaed, but it is intolerable to them that it could happen. On top of everything else, it is the principle of the thing — an infringement, or even a potential infringement, on the constitutional rights of even a handful of reporters is an affront to all.
There are lots of people who share this way of thinking about rights and government. Some of them gather every year at places like CPAC and the National Rifle Association annual convention.
Scorn was heaped on the NRA for opposing new gun rules out of the very same logic that compels reporters to react so strongly against the AP subpoena.
The NRA will not abide an infringement of anyone’s legitimate right to bear arms, and it fears what could come of enhanced state power. Like the reporters, it casts a jaundiced eye on the reassurances of government. What they are to the First Amendment, it is to the Second.
Journalists should learn from this moment. Maybe they should stop rolling their eyes when the likes of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz talk of the Constitution. Maybe they should credit the skepticism about government of the tea party, which was right in its early complaints about the IRS. Maybe, after nearly five years, they should invest the phrase “adversarial press” with true meaning.
(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate
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