First Blood, Bloggers!

by

US Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) believes the Senate has enough votes to pass the Free Flow of Information Act, creating a federal “shield law” for the first time. The bill was ostensibly written to address the Justice Department’s unprecedented acquisition of Associated Press phone records, as well as several other high-profile cases where journalists might be forced to reveal their sources to the national security state, and prevent such events from occurring in the future. As with many so-called “progressive” reforms, however, there’s a catch. Well, more than one. The first catch is an amendment to the bill, insisted upon by California senator Dianne Feinstein, taking it upon itself to define, down to the molecular level, what a “journalist” is. According to this amendment, a “covered journalist” – the sole target of this bill – is an individual “who is, or on the relevant date, was, an employee, independent contractor, or agent of an entity or service that disseminates news or information […] with the primary intent to investigate events and procure material in order to disseminate to the public news or information concerning local, national or international events or other matters of public interest.” In other words, unless you get paid, you don’t get to call yourself a journalist. First blood: Bloggers. But what if the reporter in question doesn’t work for a newspaper, television station, radio station or wire service? What if they got a job at Wikileaks? “The term ‘covered journalist’ does not include any person or entity whose principal function, as demonstrated by the totality of such person or entity’s work, is to publish primary source documents that have been disclosed to such person or entity without authorization.” So that means that independent investigative journalists who run their own sites and leak sites like Wikileaks and Cryptome aren’t covered. See also: Targets of state-level “Ag-Gag” laws, which criminalize the filming of factory farm conditions and other agricultural atrocities, and people who film the police. In fact, the Free Flow of Information Act spends more time detailing what it will not cover than describing who it will protect. Luckily, it isn’t hard to see who ends up in the clear with this media shield bill: NPR. The Washington Post. The New York Times. CBS. NBC News. CNN. News organizations that already defer to power and cooperate with the state. This is the same media landscape that promotes the gatekeeper myth, keeps the “view from nowhere” on life support and props up barriers to entry to the industry for all but the most economically privileged. This shield bill will only serve to strengthen the existing journalism cartel and will decimate the “uncovered,” free journalism world. Trevor Hultner is an independent journalist, retail salesperson and Internet content creator. When not writing commentary for the Center for a Stateless Society (c4ss.org), he is the host and producer of Smash Walls Radio (@smashwalls), and is working on a new project about the economics of everyday life.

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
July 28, 2015
Mark Schuller
Humanitarian Occupation of Haiti: 100 Years and Counting
Lawrence Ware
Why the “Black Church” Doesn’t Exist–and Never Has
Peter Makhlouf
Israel and Gaza: the BDS Movement One Year After “Protective Edge”
Eric Draitser
China’s NGO Law: Countering Western Soft Power and Subversion
Paul Craig Roberts - Dave Kranzler
Supply and Demand in the Gold and Silver Futures Markets
Carl Finamore
Landlords Behaving Badly: San Francisco Too Valuable for Poor People*
Michael P. Bradley
Educating About Islam: Problems of Selectivity and Imbalance
Binoy Kampmark
Ransacking Malaysia: the Najib Corruption Dossier
Michael Avender - Medea Benjamin
El Salvador’s Draconian Abortion Laws: a Miscarriage of Justice
Jesse Jackson
Sandra Bland’s Only Crime Was Driving While Black
Cesar Chelala
Effect of Greece’s Economic Crisis on Public Health
Mel Gurtov
Netanyahu: An Enemy of Peace
Joseph G. Ramsey
The Limits of Optimism: E.L. Doctorow and the American Left
George Wuerthner
Bark Beetles and Forest Fires: Another Myth Goes Up in Smoke
Harvey Wasserman
Will Ohio Gov. Kasich’s Anti-Green Resume Kill His Presidential Hopes?
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode 4, a Bowery Ballroom Blitz
July 27, 2015
Susan Babbitt
Thawing Relations: Cuba’s Deeper (More Challenging) Significance
Howard Lisnoff
Bernie Sanders: Savior or Seducer of the Anti-War Left?
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma’s Profiteers: You Want Us to Pay What for These Meds?
John Halle
On Berniebots and Hillary Hacks, Dean Screams, Swiftboating and Smears
Stephen Lendman
Cleveland Police Attack Black Activists
Joshua Sperber
What is a President? The CEO of Capitalism
Patrick Cockburn
Only Iraq’s Clerics Can Defeat ISIS
Ralph Nader
Sending a ‘Citizens Summons’ to Members of Congress
Clancy Sigal
Scratch That Itch: Hillary and The Donald
Colin Todhunter
Working Class War Fodder
Gareth Porter
Obama’s Version of Iran Nuke Deal: a Second False Narrative
Zoe Konstantopoulou
The Politics of Coercion in Greece
Vacy Vlanza
Without BDS, Palestine is Alone
Laura Finley
Adjunct Professors and Worker’s Rights
Jon Langford
Mekons Tour Diary, Episode Three, Where We Thrill Everyone by Playing Like “Utter Bloody Garbage”
Weekend Edition
July 24-26, 2015
Mike Whitney
Picked Out a Coffin Yet? Take Ibuprofen and Die
Henry Giroux
America’s New Brutalism: the Death of Sandra Bland
Rob Urie
Capitalism, Engineered Dependencies and the Eurozone
Michael Lanigan
Lynn’s Story: an Irish Woman in Search of an Abortion
Paul Street
Deleting Crimes at the New York Times: Airbrushing History at the Paper of Record
ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH
Making Sense of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Geopolitical Implications
Andrew Levine
After the Iran Deal: Israel is Down But Far From Out
Uri Avnery
Sheldon’s Stooges: Netanyahu and the King of Vegas
David Swanson
George Clooney Paid by War Profiteers
ANDRE VLTCHEK
They Say Paraguay is in Africa: Mosaic of Horror
Horace G. Campbell
Obama in Kenya: Will He Cater to the Barons or the People?
Michael Welton
Surviving Together: Canadian Public Tradition Under Threat
Rev. William Alberts
American Imperialism’s Military Chaplains
Yorgos Mitralias
Black Days: August 4th,1914 Germany and July 13th, 2015 Greece