Protecting the Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press is crucial to the functioning of our democracy. The President's recent attacks on CNN are the latest and most grotesque in a long line of comments designed to undermine public faith in the free press and bolster support for propaganda disguised as news (such as Fox News).

The Show Me Voters Alliance calls on our elected officials to strongly reject these attacks and begin taking action to protect the press. We will soon be submitting letters to Senator Blunt, Senator McCaskill, Representative Lacy Clay, Representative Ann Wagner and Governor Greitens asking them to stand up for the freedom of the press in both statement and action.

We are particularly concerned about what may happen to freedom of the press in the case of a major international incident, which could be used as an excuse to deny First Amendment protections to journalists, either by labeling them criminal "leakers" or attempting use libel laws to silence them.

Learn more about the dangers posed to the free press in the USA from the Committee to Project Journalists.

A few other people have had something to say about the importance of the free press to American democracy:

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.” — Benjamin Franklin, 1722

“There is nothing so fretting and vexatious, nothing so justly terrible to tyrants, and their tools and abettors, as a free press.” — Samuel Adams, 1768

"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them." — Thomas Jefferson

“There is a terrific disadvantage not having the abrasive quality of the press applied to you daily, to an administration. Even though we never like it, and even though we wish they didn’t write it, and even though we disapprove, there still isn’t any doubt that we couldn’t do the job at all in a free society without a very, very active press.” — John F. Kennedy, 1962

“Since the founding of this nation, freedom of the press has been a fundamental tenet of American life. There is no more essential ingredient than a free, strong and independent press to our continued success in what the founding fathers called our ‘noble experiment’ in self-government.’” — Ronald Reagan, 1983

(Quotes thanks to Robert Reich.)

 

 

Letter to Governor Greitens: sent

The attached letter has been sent electronically to the office of Governor Greitens, with a physical copy to follow shortly. We have made four specific requests:

  • That the governor publicly disclose the sources of funding for A New Missouri Inc.;
  • That the governor respect the will of the voters and their elected representatives by committing to call no more special sessions for non-emergencies;
  • That the governor respect the will of the local voters of St. Louis and other Missouri municipalities by not calling for state legislation specifically to override local legislation as was the case in the recent special session;
  • And that the governor publicly state his commitment to protecting democracy in Missouri.

We have also sent copies of our letter to Kurt Erikson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jason Hancock of the Kansas City Star, and the television news departments at FOX2, KSDK and KMOV.

Visiting Senator Blunt's Office

A representative from the Show Me Voter Alliance will be visiting Senator Blunt's office on Wednesday, June 28, 2017, to ask about the Senator's commitment to protecting democracy in Missouri. 

The Senator has been a strong advocate for the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But we do not believe that is enough. We plan to ask about the transparency of the investigations, how quickly they can be expected to move, and most importantly — what can be done immediately to protect future elections, especially the 2018 mid-term elections. 

In addition, we are deeply troubled by the anti-democratic nature of Senator Blunt's recent comments that there is "no reason" to work with Democrats on healthcare. Such a rejection of the standards of bipartisanship that have been traditional in the Senate is a rejection of the will of the voters, who did not give the Republicans the 60+ votes in the Senate they need to pass true healthcare legislation. 

We also plan to ask the Senator to speak more openly about voter suppression methods such as the recent Missouri voter ID legislation, gerrymandering and freedom of the press. 

Letter to Governor Greitens

The Show Me Voters Alliance will soon deliver a letter to Governor Greitens to share our concern about his undemocratic actions including:

  • His continued ties to "dark money" and his refusal to disclose the sources of this financing.
  • His repeated calls for "special sessions" to force the legislature to address issues they have already addressed or chosen not to address during regular sessions, forcing the expenditure of the state's limited budget against the will of the representatives of the people.
  • In particular, his call for a "special session" with the specifically stated intent of overriding duly enacted legislation passed by the elected officials of the City of St. Louis. 

We also have grave concerns about his repeated vilification of the "out-of-touch liberal agenda" in spite of the fact that, as Governor of Missouri, he represents millions of self-identified liberal voters. 

We believe that, whatever one's politics, respecting the will of the voter is paramount. Governor Greitens is failing to support the democratic ideals of American government.