Friday, September 20, 2013

Media Shield Law: another attack on free speech and whistle blowers

The government/big business wedding
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

"The worst thing that ever happened to journalism was that it became the professionalized province of the educated." Charles P Pierce

The LA Times reported on the passing of the new "media shield Law" passed by a Senate Committee earlier this month. The new law would protect "journalists and bloggers" who report news to the public from being forced to testify about their work.  The bill is supported by some major media organizations, you know, the ones that regurgitate the official line that comes out of government press agencies.  The likes of Wikileaks and other unfavorable sources are not protected.  Dianne Feinstein wants to define exactly what a journalist is, "Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) insisted on limiting the legal protection to "real reporters" and not, she said, a 17-year-old with his own website." the LA Times states.  "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," Feinstein said.

Feinstein introduced an amendment to the bill that defines a "covered journalist" as someone who gathers and reports news for "an entity or service that disseminates news and information."  According to the LA Times, "The definition includes freelancers, part-timers and student journalists, and it permits a judge to go further and extend the protections to any 'legitimate news-gathering activities.'"

Feinsten, a wealthy woman in her own right is married to Richard Blum, a speculator and coupon clipper who made a lot of his money through sweat shops in Asia, US government contracts, and through his lucrative position as a regent of the University of California.   In 2009,  Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to provide $25 billion in taxpayer money to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, the government agency that insures bank deposits.  The FDIC had awarded her husband's real estate firm, CB Richard Ellis, what the Washington Times called "a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms." (WikipediaI was a shop steward for 25 years and always told my co-workers who asked how I could defend a worker that I knew was guilty that no worker could steal as much in a lifetime as these people steal in an day.

Blum is also Chairman of the Board of the CBRE Group and CBRE Group Inc. was awarded the government contract to be the sole marketer of USPS properties as the capitalist class moves to privatize the most efficient post office system in the industrialized world. This is the world in which we live, a public university board having so many investment bankers and other coupon clippers on it and the plundering of society's wealth by these characters.  The 1% keep their snouts buried deep in the public trough.

Naturally, the increased dismantling of the gains US workers have made over 150 years and the intention of the 1% to place us on rations is not a popular development and the increased surveillance, attacks on our rights and beefing up of the state security forces by their representatives in Congress are in preparation for the mass movements against these policies that we will see in the US in the years ahead.  The US capitalist class has no alternative but to attack the living standards of US workers and the middle class, the laws of their system; the global struggle for profits and endless wars to maintain them demands it.  Capitalism was dragged form the edge of the abyss by public funds and its continued crises ensure further cliffs are around the corner. The assault on workers cannot be avoided from their point of view.

Along with more police brutality and hi tech security and surveillance, we see increased oppressive legislation as Dianne Fenistein and her class colleagues are attempting to enact a law that defines what a journalist actually is. The "embedded" sycophants are "real journalists", Glenn Greenwald, Edward Snowden etc. are not. This is an anti-whistle blower law and an attempt to control information on the Internet and keep what they're doing under wraps.

Charles P. Pierce wrote a great piece on the media shield law and I urge readers to read it. He is not too pleased with the billionaires attacks on free speech:
"Hey, Dianne, here's the thing on that First Amendment business. I get to define what you do for a living. And if I decide to define what you do for a living is to be a mewling apologist for the national-security community and a lapdog for the surveillance state, I get to do that, and I get to do it in a newspaper, or video, or on-line, or on a pamphlet stapled to a telephone pole outside your door, if I so choose. You get to sit there, collect your government salary, raise money from plutocrats, and shut...the...hell...up."

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