Critical for Individual Liberty: First Amendment Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press. The ability of reporters to state the news as it is, not as governments wish it to be reported. That is the meaning of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The responsibility of the press, including these reporters sitting here with me today, to report accurately and without bias is so important to our national freedom that the founding fathers guaranteed freedom of the press in the First Amendment, not the Eighth, the Tenth, or the Nineteenth. That amendment says, "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press." Free speech and free press are in the same phrase of the amendment, signifying that one without the other would be meaningless.

Thomas Jefferson wrote, "The only security of all is in a free press. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure." Adlai Stevenson, Dwight Eisenhower's presidential opponent, much later added, "The free press is the mother of all our liberties." Freedom of the press is just as important in local matters, as in national issues, to inform us about governmental boondoggles, gaffes, and mismanagement so as to promote honest and intelligent discussion. A free and responsible press is nothing without principled reporters who investigate and report the facts without embellishment or bias.

Think of exceptional examples like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite. They had integrity. They were unafraid to report the news as it is, not as politicians and governments wished it were. Now, think of another reporter from the same mold. Joe Moore, who retired this week after 43 years of anchoring TV-7 News. As with “Uncle Walter,” when Joe Moore said something, you could rely on it. His quality, his honesty, his integrity exemplify all that is right about freedom of the press. Considering his insight, knowledge of government, and sense of history in this area, I hope we will hear much more from Joe Moore.

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