Would Thomas Payne have been able to pass Dick Durbin’s journalist smell test? Here’s an even better question: Do you really want the likes of Dick Durbin and Chuck Schumer deciding who a journalist is, and therefore who is entitled to the legal protections that go along with the profession? Based on an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, Durbin wants just that.
In the column printed last week, Durbin asks, “Is each of Twitter’s 141 million users in the United States a journalist? How about the 164 million Facebook users? What about bloggers, people posting on Instagram, or users of online message boards like Reddit?”
Durbin throws a bone to the 1st amendment by conceding, “Everyone, regardless of the mode of expression, has a constitutionally protected right to free speech.” But the senator goes on to inject the government as the final arbiter as to who is a “legitimate” journalist, “when it comes to freedom of the press, I believe we must define a journalist and the constitutional and statutory protections those journalists should receive.”
For those wondering how, exactly, Durbin and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) will eventually define who a journalist is, this passage from the column might very well spell bad news for bloggers or anyone else utilizing new media and citizen journalism to report news or express their opinions:
A journalist gathers information for a media outlet that disseminates the information through a broadly defined “medium” — including newspaper, nonfiction book, wire service, magazine, news website, television, radio or motion picture — for public use. This broad definition covers every form of legitimate journalism.
There you have it. Durbin, a Democrat, the party that purports to represent the “little guy,” the party that claims to represent the people versus the evil corporations. Durbin wants to give legal protection to a journalist only if they are working for a “media outlet.” Citizen journalists and amateur bloggers can forget enjoying the same protections that Durbin and his pals will grant to the “professionals” who got their education/indoctrination at left-wing journalism schools.