WASHINGTON, May 2, 2007 – Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid said today that the proposed federal media shield law, the so-called Free Flow of Information Act, is a Pandora’s Box that would backfire on the media because of the inability to adequately define basic terms such as “journalist.”
“The term is so loosely defined that an al Qaeda propaganda front could qualify as a legitimate news organization,” the AIM editor said.
“The legislation is not in the interests of the media or the public,” he said, adding that AIM would seek an opportunity to testify against the bill and would recommend a presidential veto if Congress passes it.
The bill, reintroduced in the House and Senate, purports to protect the media’s use of confidential sources, Kincaid said, but would actually enable federal authorities, including members of Congress and judges, to decide who or what qualifies for special federal protection. As such, it amounts to a federal press licensing scheme, designating who should enjoy special rights from law enforcement authorities and who should not, Kincaid charged.
The AIM editor said that journalists should give up their attempts to protect questionable sources in extraordinary and rare national security cases and start acting like ordinary citizens with a duty and obligation to report evidence of criminal activity. “The media are not above the law that applies to the rest of us,” the AIM editor declared.
Alluding to the involvement of some 40 media companies and other journalistic organizations at a Capitol Hill news conference to re-introduce the bill, Kincaid warned the public of a propaganda blitz designed to get the legislation through both Houses of Congress without serious scrutiny. When an issue like this is before Congress, involving the perceived self-interest of the media elite, Kincaid said the public can count on one-sided “news” coverage.
Accuracy in Media (AIM), founded by Reed Irvine in 1969, is America’s original media watchdog organization. For more information, please visit http://www.aim.org .