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Are blogs protected by the First Admendment?

This is a page from the original version of Pagan Vigil. There are some formatting differences.

Originally published at

Are blogs protected by the First Admendment?

Do Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Speech apply to websites?

Ryan Sager of the New York Post lays it out.

The problem for Temple and bloggers like him who mix journalism and activism — popular sites such as the conservative and the liberal — is that they may well lose no matter what the FEC decides.

If such sites are not entitled to the press exemption, they will likely run afoul of limits under federal law on how much individuals and corporations can donate to candidates for federal office. Their journalism will, in effect, be labeled a campaign contribution.

But even if these sites do get the press exemption, what will they have won? Nothing more than the "privilege" of writing news and commentary without fear of prosecution. In other words, they'll get to exercise the most basic right of all Americans only so long as the government continues to approve.

The major news organizations are exempt from the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, otherwise known as McCain-Feingold*. The very fact that such exemptions have to be granted is proof that McCain-Feingold is a seriously flawed law that threatens freedom and election debate. Under this interpretation, I need a press pass and affiliation with a major press outlet just to make comments.

And IF that is the way that the law is going to be applied, then the FEC has a duty to investigate each and every complaint against the major news sources. Such as the fact that in the 2004 election campaign more stories ran about the questions about President Bush's National Guard service than ran about the questions about Senator John Kerry's Navy service. Regardless of which was the real story, under that interpretation of the law, there should have been a equal number of stories about each. If the law exists, it can't be enforced selectively.

Still. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press are not only rights, but American traditions. There is no way government can regulate those for blogs without regulating the mainstream press and media.

*Disclaimer - I was actively opposing John McCain's reelection in 2004 and McCain-Feingold was the major reason why. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Posted: Fri - October 14, 2005 at 04:23 PM

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