Fair weather friends of freedom

May 16th, 2013

Like I said before, my sympathy for their pain is…quite constrained. Welcome to the party, assholes.

The reaction to the government seizure of the phone records is another reminder, if we needed one, that what the press cares about most is itself.

The New York Times sniffed at the Internal Revenue Service scandal. It didn’t even put the initial story on the front page. When it did eventually front it, the headline was about how Republicans were trying to make hay of the scandal. Editorially, it issued a relatively tepid tsk-tsk. But the AP subpoena earned the White House a firm rebuke in an editorial titled “Spying on the Associated Press”: The administration has “a chilling zeal for investigating leaks” and is trying “to frighten off whistleblowers.”

It sounds like the Times should go back and read President Barack Obama’s commencement address at Ohio State University the other day, where he lamented that the students have been “hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity” and “that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”

Yes, why can’t all the journalists hyped up about the AP subpoena simply put more trust in the good intentions and the workings of their own government?

Hey, the government is us–right, guys? Trouble is, as always, no matter how “liberal” and pro-government you are, sooner or later the despot will get around to diddling around with something you do care about. And the bigger the government, the more illegitimate diddling around it’s going to be doing. This part is particularly delicious:

In this, the reporters exhibited a healthy impulse toward vigilance about liberty. The phrase “chilling effect” has been bandied about often. A chill comes not necessarily from what government is doing to you but from what it might do to you. Very few reporters will ever have their records secretly subpoenaed by the government, but it is intolerable to them that it could happen. On top of everything else, it is the principle of the thing — an infringement, or even a potential infringement, on the constitutional rights of even a handful of reporters is an affront to all.

There are lots of people who share this way of thinking about rights and government. Some of them gather every year at places like CPAC and the National Rifle Association annual convention.

That’s gotta sting a bit. Or a lot. And I surely hope it does, and that the memory of it will linger a good, long while, at least with the more intelligent among them.

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  1. May 16th, 2013 at 17:39 | #1
    I just totally lifted this and cross linked on my Blog. Hope ya don't mind.
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