Free Speech and its limits

By Chris Daly 

Here’s a story that nicely illustrates the limits of the First Amendment. Many people wrongly think that the First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech (and of “the press”) in all settings, all the time. Not so.

The First Amendment is written so that it prevents the government from censoring speech before it can reach its intended audience. The First Amendment says nothing about private parties, like Fox or News Corp. Private parties are free to censor their employees, and they are not shy about doing so.

Thus, it should come as no surprise that News Corp. would choose to censor Alec Baldwin. He has no recourse against News Corp. under the First Amendment, because there was no government action involved. His best revenge is to shout about it to every other news outlet he can find.

So, a hat tip to the NYTimes‘ Brian Stelter for giving this story some attention.

(At the same time, the whole episode implicitly makes the case for having diversity in the news media, so that even Rupert Murdoch cannot control absolutely everything.)

 

 

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Filed under broadcasting, Fox News, Journalism, New York Times

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