The Importance of Free Press in a Democracy

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Before we can understand the importance of a free press in a democracy, we need to grasp what it means to have a free press. The Cambridge Dictionary tells us that a free press allows all media outlets to express whatever opinions they desire. That means, it says, that they are enabled to criticize the government and other organizations. So why would that be relevant in a democracy?

The answer seems pretty simple to us. A democracy is defined as a belief in equality and freedom amongst the people within it that is governed by a system that upholds that belief. So, if democracy is about freedom, then a free press is necessary to ensure that those freedoms remain intact. Any censorship on behalf of those with biased interests takes away the core of democracy.

Al Gore writes in his book, The Assault on Reason, that when the media forum is controlled, specifically by those with money, it limits good ideas created by those who cannot afford access. Specifically, he states, "when their opinions are blocked, the meritocracy of ideas that has always been the beating heart of democratic theory begins to suffer damage."

This is not to say that the rich are always the main problem in protecting and ensuring the existence of a free press. In truth, people will always avoid saying and presenting things that go against their own self interests. That is why it is so important for media outlets to employ people on both sides of a position and to give them the same amount of air time or written space. People cannot be informed fully if only one side of an argument is ever presented at length.

When the public is constantly exposed to liberal thoughts, and conservative positions are derided if even exposed, the marketplace of ideas is greatly hindered and twisted. The same is true when only conservative positions are presented without any counter balanced progressive input. As this occurs, we see people negating what was accomplished in 1787 when some of the most influential thinkers and individuals of the time converged on Philadelphia to ensure that this democracy was ruled by the people. The government should never be an entity that rules over them, according to the first words of the Constitution, "We the people".

That is why everything got divided into a checks and balances system. The Founding Fathers knew the human propensity towards issues of control. Absolute authority had to be hindered, and as long as this democracy has a free press, it can be. People must have access to the facts and to the truth. They have to be fully informed. Free press was included in the first constitutional amendment because it is critical to the maintenance of the dream that is America. The populace must be able to trust that the news they receive is revealing all sides, not just one agenda.

When a free press works as it should, it is a watchdog that protects the people it serves by keeping businesses, organizations, and the government under restraint. There is no other institution that has greater access to those in power than the media. They are there to uncover and reveal corruption no matter who will be affected by the truth. The truth is what has kept this democracy strong and a free press is the foundation it rests on. 

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Advertisers Ditching Laura Ingraham’s Show Over Attack On Parkland Survivor

The Fox News host mocked 17-year-old David Hogg for not getting into a few colleges.

Several companies announced Thursday that they were pulling the plug on advertising during Laura Ingraham’s show after the Fox News host bashed a teen survivor of the Parkland school shooting.

Nutrish, the pet food line owned by celebrity chef Rachael Ray, was the first to tweet that it would no longer advertise during Ingraham’s show. 

“We are in the process of removing our ads from Laura Ingraham’s program, as the comments she has made are not consistent with how we feel people should be treated,” a spokesman for Nutrish told HuffPost in a statement.

Hours later, travel site TripAdvisor and home goods retailer Wayfair followed suit.

In a statement to HuffPost, TripAdvisor said Ingraham’s comments crossed “the line of decency”:

We believe strongly in the values of our company, especially the one that says, “We are better together.”   

We also believe Americans can disagree while still being agreeable, and that the free exchange of ideas within a community, in a peaceful manner, is the cornerstone of our democracy. 

We do not, however, condone the inappropriate comments made by this broadcaster. In our view, these statements focused on a high school student, cross the line of decency. As such, we have made a decision to stop advertising on that program.

Ingraham did not address the controversy on her show, “The Ingraham Angle,” on Thursday evening. Several national retailers still featured advertisements during the commercial breaks, including Gillette and Progressive Insurance, although ThinkProgress’ Judd Legum noted that the Ad Council was also featured, possibly as filler material after some companies distanced themselves from the program.

A spokeswoman for Wayfair, which pulled its ads, told HuffPost that Ingraham’s comments were “not consistent with our values.”

“As a company, we support open dialogue and debate on issues,” the Wayfair spokeswoman said. “However, the decision of an adult to personally criticize a high school student who has lost his classmates in an unspeakable tragedy is not consistent with our values. We do not plan to continue advertising on this particular program.”

The companies’ announcements came a day after Ingraham mocked David Hogg, a senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, for not getting accepted into a few of the colleges he’d applied to.

In response, Hogg called on people to pressure a dozen companies to remove their ads from Ingraham’s programs, which include “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News and a morning radio show on Talk 1370 AM of Austin, Texas. Nutrish, TripAdvisor and Wayfair are pulling their commercials from the Fox News show, the companies confirmed to HuffPost.

Ingraham apologized Thursday afternoon on Twitter for “any upset or hurt my tweet caused [Hogg] or any of the brave victims of Parkland.”

Hogg dismissed Ingraham’s apology in an interview Thursday with The New York Times.

“She only apologized after we went after her advertisers,” Hogg said. “It kind of speaks for itself. ... I’m not going to stoop to her level and go after her on a personal level. I’m going to go after her advertisers.”

Expedia and Nestlé told HuffPost on Thursday that they would no longer advertise on Ingraham’s show, but did not immediately specify when this decision was made or whether her remarks about Hogg played a role in it.

“We have no plans to buy ads on the show in the future,” the Nestlé spokesman said.

Johnson & Johnson told HuffPost on Thursday that it “will pull advertising from Ms. Ingraham’s show.” Stitch Fix also confirmed to HuffPost that it would stop purchasing ads on her program.

Hulu tweeted that evening in reply to Hogg, saying it would similarly cease such advertising.

HuffPost reached out to every company on Hogg’s list of Ingraham advertisers, as well as others the teen tweeted out from a list compiled by Media Matters for America, a progressive media watchdog. Nutrish, TripAdvisor, Wayfair, Expedia, Nestlé, Johnson & Johnson, Hulu and Stitch Fix have responded or otherwise made public statements. Jos. A. Bank also told The Daily Beast it had no plans to buy ads on her program in the future.

A representative of Fox News declined to comment beyond Ingraham’s apology on Twitter.



South L.A. Teen Gives Powerful Speech On Trauma Of Surviving Gun Violence

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Edna Lizbeth Chavez also spoke passionately about why more guns in schools is not the answer.

A teen from South Los Angeles who lost her brother to gun violence commanded the March for Our Lives stage in Washington, D.C., on Saturday with a moving speech about the trauma survivors face and the urgent need for change.

“I am a survivor,” Edna Lizbeth Chavez, a 17-year-old student at Manual Arts High School, told the crowd. “I have lived in South L.A. my entire life and have lost many loved ones to gun violence. This is normal. Normal to the point that I have learned to duck from bullets before I learned how to read.”

Chavez revealed that her brother, Ricardo, was killed by a bullet when he was in high school, a violent act that permanently changed her entire family. 

“I also lost my mother, my sister and myself to that trauma and that anxiety,” she said. “If the bullet did not kill me, that anxiety and that trauma will. I carry that trauma everywhere I go.”

The teen, who is an activist and youth leader in Los Angeles, spoke passionately about the need not only for gun law reform but also for drastic cultural change in schools. She emphasized that more guns and more police on campuses is not the answer, noting that cops in schools are more likely to “profile and criminalize” black and brown students than to make them feel safe.

“Arming teachers will not work,” Chavez said. “More security in our schools does not work. Zero tolerance policies do not work. They make us feel like criminals. We should feel empowered and supported in our schools.”




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