Shutting Up The Press
July 8, 2010 by Bob Livingston
Four days after issuing a memo saying it was blocking certain websites from the agency’s computers—including sites that contained “controversial opinion”—the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has “clarified” that order saying contrary opinion won’t be banned.
CBS News reported the ban Tuesday after the TSA released a memo that it was blocking certain websites from the Federal agency’s computers, including halting access by staffers to any Internet pages that contain controversial opinion.
While it’s good news that the TSA changed its tune after receiving flak from employees and supporters of the 1st Amendment, that the agency would consider such a ban in the first place begs the question: What is Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano—who oversees the TSA—afraid of?
This is not the first time that controversial opinion has drawn the ire of someone in the Federal government. In March the Senate Sergeant at Arms sent an email to Senators advising them not to visit the Drudge Report. He accused the Drudge Report of infecting Senate computers with a virus—this despite the fact that Drudge had almost 30 million page views without a single reader complaint the same day the Senate’s computers were infected.
Obviously, Napolitano and many in the administration of President Barack Obama—including Obama himself—bristle at dissenting views. The president is one of the most thin-skinned individuals around, as evidenced by his attack on Fox News early in his presidency, and the fact that he avoids press conferences and press inquiries like one would avoid leprosy.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions.”
As the Obama administration continues to ineffectively flail about in its handling of the Gulf oil spill (where the United States Coast Guard is hindering the work of the media), the economic crisis, relations with foreign governments and elsewhere, it has become increasingly obvious it fears an investigation of its actions.