Tag: CNN

How Noah Berlatsky and CNN Got Free Speech Wrong

Francis Folz | United States

In a recent CNN opinion piece, author Noah Berlatsky contended that “protecting Nazi speech doesn’t protect free speech” and concluded that a Nazi salute by a group of teenagers endangers the speech and lives of all non-Nazis. Although I credit Mr. Berlatsky for his laudable zeal and well-expressed opinion, his article is laced with multiple fallacies regarding free speech that must be confronted.

Firstly, our Bill of (Human) Rights are not, and should remain, non-negotiable, and that includes the first, second, and fourth amendments. Mr. Berlatsky attributes the belief that safeguarding controversial speech, which inadvertently protects less contentious or innocuous speech, to free speech ‘purists’.

Need I remind anyone it was less than 54 years ago that countless Civil Rights demonstrators were savagely attacked for merely utilizing their freedom of speech, expression, and assembly by law enforcement and firefighters on their solemn march to Montgomery from Selma.

It is for similar reasons that Martin Luther King Jr. wrote from his Birmingham jail cell, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” I wonder if Mr. Berlatsky disagrees.

Mr. Berlatsky proceeds, “Defending the speech of white kids doesn’t necessarily protect… marginalized people.”

To some extent, he’s right. Defending those kids doesn’t necessarily guarantee everybody’s speech of every demographic is going to be protected every time in the future. However, it does set a precedent favoring free speech compared to censorship, which should be a commonly held interest.

Mr. Berlatsky’s most startling, misguided premise about freedom of expression is whenever he discusses “giving free speech to fascists” and how organizations and judges need to balance ambiguous ‘interests’. Mr. Berlatsky blatantly misunderstands that our rights are not given to each other by society, rather they are innate, endowed to us by our Creator.

We don’t ‘give’ each other the human right to privacy, just like we don’t ‘give’ each other the 14th Amendment right to birthright citizenship. All of our rights are intrinsic to our humanity, inseparable from our existence, and deserving of our unwavering defense.

At some point in his article, I questioned if Mr. Berlatsky is aware of the equal protection clause since his attempts to justify censorship tend to fall apart when applied to groups outside of fascists. In regards to the Charlottesville rally in 2017, Berlatsky suggests that since white supremacists used their freedom to ‘terrorize’ people and one individual killed one person and injured nearly 20 others, that is cause to deny every individual within the group their human rights.

Using Mr. Berlatsky’s logic, shouldn’t all members of Antifa have their constitutional rights suspended? After all, when a Hillary Clinton supporter in Portland refused to surrender an American flag to the domestic terrorist group, Antifa members cracked his head open. And that’s only one example of their repeated malice. Shouldn’t their hatred be enough to disband the violent, left-wing faction?

What if you applied Mr. Berlatsky’s logic to religious fanatics instead of ideological extremists? Wouldn’t the tragedy of September 11th be enough to deny every American Muslim the freedoms of speech, expression, and assembly because of the actions of 19 men?

After all, haven’t Islamic extremists terrorized multiple nations and killed thousands of people throughout the globe in the last two decades? Any reasonable person would not punish a group of people for the actions of its individual members but would advocate for equal protection under the law, foils to Mr. Berlatsky’s arguments.

Next, Mr. Berlatsky makes the case that the Wisconsin school district should’ve reprimanded the students for their inappropriate picture that appears to show them performing a Nazi salute, despite being off-campus and unaffiliated with the school district at the time of the photo. In an attempt to buttress his argument, Mr. Berlatsky reports that a school suspended 20 students for a tweet that falsely accused a female teacher of flirting with students, justifying the suppression of expression.

The problem is that the Salem students were guilty of libel and accused a staff member of coquetting with her pupils, a criminal offense. The only crime the Wisconsin teens committed was taking a reprehensible picture, making the situation incomparable.

Mr. Berlatsky’s final argument centers around discipline and race. According to the Government Accountability Office, Black students, in 2014, were 15.5 percent of the U.S. student populace, yet accounted for almost 39% of suspensions. Mr. Berlatsky attributes the disproportion to schools inevitably using their disciplinary authority against ‘marginalized students’ at the expense of others.

However, American schools are extremely localized, meaning parents and administrators have the final say on countless decisions, from electronics to dress codes to disciplinary policies. Regrettably, American schools are nearly as segregated as they were in the 1960s.

So in other words, the black students who are subjected to disproportionate suspensions are largely attending non-white majority schools which choose to chastise their students at a rate that is, apparently, acceptable with school personnel and parents.

Free speech is under siege like never before in American history. I hate bigotry. I detest fascism. However, I appreciate our collective, human right to speech and expression, even if I disapprove of somebody’s opinions and/or actions.

Today, the groups whom people loathe most are nazism and fascism. Nazism, by definition, is national socialism. Socialism is just a few steps away from communism. Communism has left over 100 million people dead in 100 years. What would people think if you could no longer raise your fist in public because of it’s communist insignia?

We are better as a society for the ability to openly express all of our ideas, even ones we don’t concur with, rather than only tribal-mentality approved perspectives, regardless of ideology. If detestable, bigoted opinions are allowed to be expressed in the open, it allows society to weed out the most reprehensible of ideas. It is best we don’t take for granted the ability to communicate freely and openly with each other, as anything less is a form of authoritarianism, oppression, and tyranny.


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What Really Motivates the Media?

Thomas Calabro | United States

The media is probably one of the most politically powerful entities in the US. This unique group can reveal dark secrets, spin stories for deceptive purposes, or blatantly lie to create emotional backlash against an event. Their social status puts them in a position where they are not only respected, but their claims are immediately revered as truths. This special status distorts any skepticism of the press as threats against the media as well as our very own democracy. Any person who wishes to challenge the media is automatically a tyrant, who wishes to keep their operations a secret from the public.

This is not a support for taking away the rights of the press, nor is it supporting strong central figure to destroy the media for exposing bad policies, unnecessary military conflicts, and his/her lies to the people. The media does play a role in preventing authoritarians from using fear-mongering tactics to suppress liberty, to engage in war, and to obtain more influence. Without a free press we would not we might not know of our atrocious policies, military conflicts, and much more. But one can support the media while also having some skepticism towards this institution’s claims.

This leaves me with the question: What is the motivation inside the media? Is it a desire to provide information to all, and truly stop tyrants? Is it an evil inclination to deceive the pubic to fall in line with their own personal biases? What drives those with such power to go out and write stories about the world, or engage in a hilarious confrontation with the president?

Personal Biases

We all have some sort of bias in our minds and our hearts. From how we were raised, to what we’ve experienced, and even what morals we follow, we can look at the world and see it differently from others. These biases can be so strong that it is obvious where the writer/pundit is trying to lead the audience. Someone who has a political agenda, such as those from past administrations, or supporters for the opposition party, can find the spin that can make a story support their own beliefs.

However these biases can also be very minute, as well as difficult to spot. The biased person may not even notice their bias, but can find themselves following these deep-seeded inclinations. This could be exposure to some phenomenon, or the acceptance of some beliefs as factual, instead of arguable. It could be poor experiences with authority that may not seem significant at first glance but can still impact how one looks at any kind of established authority.

Historical Preservation

With a media as powerful as today’s, many argue that such a force has the ability to take down powerful figures, especially the President. This in turn gives media figures a special place in history as fighting corruption, removing a President, or preserving democracy. The obvious example is the Watergate scandal, which both uplifts and destroys the media’s role in the impeachment/resignation of President Richard Nixon. While we generally see the media as essential in uncovering Watergate, and Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein as important for their work, many argue, as well as Woodward himself, that we should not “overemphasize” the press’ power.

To say that the press brought down Nixon, that’s horseshit,” he says. “The press always plays a role, whether by being passive or by being aggressive, but it’s a mistake to overemphasize (the role of the media)” – Robert Woodward

Of course, without Woodward and Bernstein, the Watergate story would’ve either been hidden forever, or lost public interest as it developed. It is possible that many may wish to become the next Bob Woodward, exposing corruption, creating buzz, and creating a name that will last throughout history. Even if Woodward is right about the media’s actual role, sociologist Michael Schudson thinks it doesn’t matter, that the myth of the media’s role makes the media far more powerful and respected.

A mythology of the press in Watergate developed into a significant national myth, a story that independently carries on a memory of Watergate even as details about what Nixon did or did not do fade away. At its broadest, the myth of journalism in Watergate asserts that two young Washington Post reporters brought down the president of the United States. This is a myth of David and Goliath, of powerless individuals overturning an institution of overwhelming might. It is high noon in Washington, with two white-hatted young reporters at one end of the street and the black-hatted president at the other, protected by his minions. And the good guys win. The press, truth its only weapon, saves the day.” – Michael Schudson Watergate in American Memory

Regardless, the media’s past is one of a powerful entity, one that can also preserve our names if we expose dictators and make significant changes in political climates.

Pandering Press

Every ideology has their own group that supports their stances, and worships their heroes for defending their cause. They also have their super villains to fight against. This creates a demand for stories, data, and opinions that promote their views and beliefs by telling the story they want to hear. A great example is the left-leaning sites that claim Senator Sanders influenced Jeff Bezos’ wage hike. The audience wants their hero to defeat, or even outsmart their villain, will rejoice anyone who panders to them.

The Truth Seekers

Obviously, even if you have a negative view of the mainstream media, there are some out there who truly want to spread information and make a difference. They can expose problematic policies, sad stories, and horrific tales, as well as uplifting stories about the good in the world. They will rely on facts, listen to the reality we live in, and let the people know what goes on in our world.

Regardless of the media’s specific motivation, we find ourselves struggling to grasp on to truth and knowledge without getting caught up in the hysterics. The best approach to look at the news is to have a certain skepticism until enough research can support claims made. This will not only create a sense of responsibility, but can help one look objectively at the world around them, and focus on the facts, not the deceptions.


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Don’t Fall for the Hypocrisy of Jim Acosta

By Nick Hamilton | United States

The time has finally come. CNN’s Jim Acosta has crossed the line and had his press credentials revoked by President Trump. I wrote an article back in September about this, which you can read here. I’m honestly a little surprised this actually happened. However, it was the right thing to do.

Acosta and the Press Conference

At Wednesday’s press conference, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked a question about the migrant caravan and tried to lecture President Trump on why he thinks this caravan isn’t an invasion. President Trump simply stated after that that they had a difference of opinion on the matter and that Acosta should let him run the country. Seems reasonable, right? After that, President Trump proceeded to call on another reporter, however, Acosta just wasn’t finished. Even after President Trump called on another reporter, Acosta still tried to ask questions. When a White House intern tried to take the microphone away from Acosta, he proceeded to grab onto the mic and forcefully push down on her arm.

Nevertheless, the media is portraying this incident as nothing more than an attempt for President Trump to dodge a tough question from Acosta. That is a blatant lie. Trump had already called on another reporter. There were a lot of reporters at this press conference, and I’m sure Trump wanted to get to as many as he could.

However, when Acosta wouldn’t give up the mic, the President did something that the media hated. First of all, he answered the bogus question about the Russia investigation. He then took a couple of seconds to walk away from the podium. President Trump also proceeded to, as he has done before, turn off the mic of Jim Acosta.

A Rude Reporter

“CNN should be ashamed of itself to have you working for them. You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN. The way you treat Sarah Sanders is horrible. The way you treat other people is horrible. You shouldn’t treat people that way.”  -Trump to Acosta

Trump isn’t wrong. As I have outlined, Jim Acosta is one of the rudest reporters in the liberal media. He consistently thinks he has the right to overpower other reporters. People don’t just lash out at him for no reason; they do so because of his lack of respect for the industry. Mark Dice, a conservative YouTube commentator, put together a short compilation of his most unprofessional moments that justify Trump’s outburst. You can view it here. CNN has claimed that Acosta is just trying to ask questions that the American people want answers to. My question to CNN, however, is that if that’s truly the case, why won’t another reporter ask them? If it is truly an important question, then Acosta is not the only person capable of asking it.

Other Media Attacks

Acosta is not the only reporter Trump has attacked this week. CNN’s Brooke Baldwin had a few choice words for the President in her daily show on CNN. Yamiche Alcindor, a journalist for PBS, tried to question Trump’s rhetoric of calling himself a nationalist at a recent Houston rally, linking him with white nationalism. I was very privileged to be able to attend that rally, and it was quite clear he was speaking only of United States nationalism; there was no mention of race or any discriminatory language. Trump has denounced the KKK and Alt-Right nationalists on many occasions. Thus, it is not surprising that such questions annoy him.

Later in the press conference, April Ryan, a CNN contributor, had the same problem Jim Acosta did; she tried to ask a question during another reporter’s time. Trump told her to “sit down,” because he was answering a question from another reporter. Nonetheless, she kept interrupting.

Then, on November 9th, as Trump was leaving the White House, reporters swarmed him. Many asked him about April Ryan: why he chose to call her “nasty” and “a loser” because of her reporting. Then, Abby Phillip, another reporter, asked Trump about Whitaker’s involvement with the Russia investigation. Trump couldn’t answer that, and said: “It’s up to him.” But then, Phillip responded by saying, “Do you want him to rein in Robert Muller?”

“What a stupid question. But I watch you a lot, and you ask a lot of stupid questions,” replied Trump.

Attacks Against Black Women?

Now, of course, Baldwin had something to say about this. But what did she choose to say? She chose to try and say that Trump was wrong for these attacks. But read closely. He was wrong to say this because they were black women. She didn’t even acknowledge what happened with Jim Acosta, a white male, who got it worse than all three of thee reporters. Why is it only bad when Trump negatively targets black female reporters?

Now, if he only ever criticized black women, then perhaps her accusations would make more sense. But, this is not the case: Trump regularly slams people of all races, removing any likelihood of racist intent.

Baldwin, thus, appears to be playing the race card. If we want to truly live in a society free of racism, it starts with Brooke Baldwin. It starts with The View and Jimmy Kimmel, who have also employed this narrativeThe color of someone’s skin and someone’s gender are completely irrelevant to their journalistic ability. If you believe otherwise, then you’re part of the problem. Baldwin is trying to say that just because they’re black women, they are immune to criticism. This is true for neither them nor Acosta.

The Tucker Carlson Incident

On the contrary, let’s talk about a real attack on a journalist. This week, Antifa protesters swarmed the house of Fox News host Tucker Carlson. His wife had to hide in the pantry, and everyone on the right was angry. Why aren’t Brooke Baldwin and Jim Acosta upset with this?

Sally Kohn, a writer for CNN, did publish an article saying that the protest went too far. She deserves credit for that, as it was quite an admirable thing to do. But to Acosta and Baldwin: why are attacks only worth criticizing when they are against you? This shows a clear double standard: one that does not represent good moral faith.


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Libertarians Should Support Ted Cruz

Indri Schaelicke | United States

Perhaps the tightest race of the 2018 midterms, Ted Cruz vs Beto O’Rourke has caught the attention of pundits and ordinary pundits across the US alike. Recent polls show conflicting conclusions, with some putting Cruz ahead by wide margins, and others portraying the race as close. At this point, it is impossible to accurately predict the outcome of this election. Considering how uncertain the result of Texas’s Senate election is at this point, it is important that libertarians rally their support behind the incumbent, Republican Junior Senator Cruz to ensure that up-and-coming Democrat Beto does not achieve election to US Senate. If he is elected, liberty will be much more at risk than it is now. 

At first glance, neither Cruz or Beto appears to be an attractive option for libertarians. Both support big government in some form or other, whether it be Cruz’s support of police, the chief enforcers of tyrannical policy, or Beto’s calls for universal healthcare. Both candidates have shown that they each have a “big government” bone, but who’s is bigger? When it comes down to it. Ted Cruz is much more likely to push for reductions in the size of government than his opponent Beto O’Rourke. 

Libertarians will find it easy to align with Cruz’s gun policy; he adamantly supports the 2nd Amendment and owns guns himself. Cruz has received an A+ rating from the NRA for his unwavering defense of the people’s right to own firearms. In the past, he has opposed legislation that would criminalize the private transfer of firearms between friends and family members. He is also a supporter of Concealed Carry Reciprocity, which would allow those with concealed carry permits to carry across state lines.  Conversely, Beto has made a name for himself among Democrats for his aggressive attacks on gun rights. Beto’s positions could not be any farther from Cruz’s; he is against Concealed Carry Reciprocity, calls firearms “weapons of war”, and supports Chuck Schumer style “universal background checks”. Cruz is the more likely of the two to defend gun rights from his position on the hill. Those who find that their position on gun ownership aligns with Ted Cruz should back him in the 2018 Senate Election. 

When it comes to the economy, Cruz appears to have a much greater understanding of its true nature. He supports massive deregulation and privatization, as well as decreasing the federal income tax, recognizing that doing so increases the wealth left in private citizens’ and business’ hands, which is used to bring prosperity to many. Cruz is also a fiscal conservative, believing that the current US Debt is unsustainable and dangerous. A core tenet of libertarian philosophy is that the people can best make decisions concerning their lives, not the government, and Cruz’s view on the economy furthers this belief. In stark contrast to Cruz’s wealth of economic understanding, Beto appears to have very little; his official platform on the economy listed on his website consists of 4 wishy-washy, befuddling statements that layout few clear economic policy proposals. What can be understood, however, is that Beto does not understand basic economics. He pushes for more regulations in the belief that they will promote competition, when in fact, regulations actually impede the growth of the economy by increasing production costs for businesses. Beto also calls for lowering the barrier of entry for small businesses, while simultaneously pushing for increased regulation and taxation, which would make operating a business much more costly. Cruz is clearly the candidate seeking to create a truly free market, and libertarians can count on him to continue to further this goal. 

“Universal Healthcare”, a proposal viewed as radical, even for Democrats, just 15 years ago has become a firmly rooted staple of the Democratic Party. As such, Beto O’Rourke is a firm believer in a system where government shoulders the burden of the healthcare market they helped to destroy. Beto calls health care a “basic human right“, a term sure to rub most libertarians the wrong way. Libertarians recognize that when a good or service is declared a right of the people, it must be procured to them at all costs, or else the government is infringing upon their rights. This ultimately is a form of conscription for those who are forced to provide the good or service at the threat of violence. Cruz abhors Universal Healthcare systems as much as libertarians, participating in a debate with quasi-socialist Bernie Sanders on CNN and being a leading figure in the campaign to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Ted Cruz’s very first piece of legislation he introduced as a Senator was to repeal Obamacare, and has introduced countless bills since, which attempt to free the healthcare market from disastrous government intervention.

Senator Cruz can be a valuable ally for libertarians in their fight to free the economy of the weight of government intervention dragging it down, and a vital supporter of 2nd Amendment rights at a time when they are under direct fire. Libertarians must vote for Ted Cruz in the 2018 Texas Senate election to ensure that at the very least, liberty does not elude them further. 


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President Trump, Take Away CNN’s White House Press Pass

By Nick Hamilton | United States

A couple of weeks ago, Trump supporters at a rally heckled CNN’s Jim Acosta. Many in his support base believe that he spread false information via his position on CNN. This sparked, once again, a battle between the President, his administration, and his supporters against the mainstream media.

Over the last few weeks, CNN has claimed President Trump is taking away their right to free press. Well, CNN fails to realize that President Trump hasn’t signed anything prohibiting them from being anywhere. He hasn’t taken any constitutional rights away from them. It’s not like he’s signed any order saying that they can’t report certain topics. All President Trump has done is claims CNN is reporting fake news. However, President Trump should actually do more to prevent the spread of false information by CNN.

It’s time for the president to take away CNN’s White House Press Pass.

Jim Acosta is one of the most disrespectful reporters in the history of the United States. If you look at this clip, courtesy of Mark Dice, you see Acosta at a White House Press Briefing, where he asks a question, and barely gives White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders two seconds to answer him before he cuts her off and asks a follow up.

This isn’t the first time Acosta has displayed disrespect to a member of the White House. You may recall that last year, before Trump was inaugurated, a female reporter was trying to ask a question when Acosta interrupted her, trying to speak over her. President Trump then insisted that Acosta sit down and wait to be called on, but Acosta took that as a sign to keep engaging. It then led President Trump to say perhaps one of the funniest and most famous things he’s ever said to a reporter: “You are fake news.”

Acosta, who had just displayed terrible journalistic etiquette, tried to lecture Trump about how President Trump was the one being, “inappropriate.” There is debate over whether this is true, but regardless, Acosta is hardly the right person to state this. Acosta, later that day, then proceeded to complain on his home network because Press Secretary Sean Spicer threatened to have him removed from the briefing if he kept up that behavior.

Access to the White House via a press pass is a privilege. CNN is treating it like it’s their right. They’re not entitled to a White House Press Pass, and frankly, shouldn’t have one. CNN’s spread of misinformation, attempts to censor right wing news outlets, and utter disrespect for not only the President, but other reporters as well are enough reason for the White House to say that CNN is not welcome at any further White House Press Briefings. CNN acts like it’s their job to be this disrespectful, when really it’s not. As for who gets to go to Press Briefings instead of CNN? Well,  71 Republic could ask some fantastic questions, but that’s a discussion for another time.


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