When Will CNN Stand Up for a Free Press?

On Friday, a Trump-appointed federal judge, per Fox News, “ruled in favor of CNN...allowing the network’s star reporter Jim Acosta to temporarily regain access to his White House press credential.”

Full stop.

Let’s turn to Fox’s own Tucker Carlson the night before this decision was issued. CNN, he said, is “claiming to defend free speech only when it is their free speech.” He also said:

“In the past couple of days, you’ve heard a lot of pumping and puffing about free speech and freedom of the press, and how those freedoms are currently imperiled by the White House, and to be clear, we are for free speech. Unfettered, absolute free speech. And we cannot help but notice that some of free speech’s greatest enemies are now posing as its defenders, all of a sudden.

Take CNN, for example. It was a CNN that almost single-handedly led the campaign to have broadcaster Alex Jones banished from the Internet, on the grounds that they didn’t like what Jones has to say. Ultimately, CNN succeeded in doing that. The network convinced every major tech platform to ban Jones and his outlet, Infowars. You don’t have to like Alex Jones to see that as a terrifying loss for free speech, because it was exactly that. But CNN was not done trying to silence its critics.”

Tucker went on to note that at the time the U.S. government forced RT -Russia today television-to register as a foreign agent or be imprisoned (!), CNN was conspicuously silent.

“Yes, Russia Today is owned by a foreign government. So is the BBC. But because RT is owned by Russia, which the Left believes got Donald Trump elected, it is fine with CNN if they are bullied and silenced.”

And when anti-free press groups out there have targeted, variously, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck, Lou Dobbs and Fox News itself? CNN hosts actually promote the campaign by mentioning it on their network. 

The question is not “if” this is the case. It is fact. The question is, why? Why does CNN stand up for its own liberal White House reporter but fall silent when others-lots of conservative others -are targeted for removal from the airwaves or the Internet? One does not have to be a fan of some of these people to understand that terminating or targeting them and others in some fashion is a visceral attack on a free press. So why do liberals, whether at CNN or elsewhere, do this?

The answer can be found in the observing wisdom of the late William F. Buckley, Jr. Wrote Buckley in his 1959 book Up From Liberalism:

“I think it is fair to generalize that American liberals are reluctant to co-exist with anyone on their Right. Ours, the liberal credo tells us, is an ‘open society,’ the rules of which call for a continuing (never terminal) hearing for all ideas. But close observation of the liberal-in-debate gives the impression that he has given conservatism a terminal audience. When a conservative speaks up demandingly, he runs the gravest risk of triggering the liberal mania; and then before you know it, the ideologist of openmindedness and toleration is hurtling toward you, lance cocked......”

Think of that. Buckley was saying this all the way back in 1959, a full 59 years before the Acosta lawsuit and for that matter 12 years before Jim Acosta himself was born. Not to mention 21 years before CNN appeared. In today’s world of cable television -not to mention on a slew of college campuses and in the precincts of Facebook, Google and other tech domains - the “liberal mania” is routinely triggered, resulting in everything from silence when conservative media personalities are targeted to raucous protests like the one the other day when a mob at Ohio State University showed up to try and silence the Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro.

Which is to say, exactly as Buckley noticed back there in the way back, the common denominator in all this is to give “conservatism a terminal audience.”

The Acosta episode can serve as a useful opener in a national discussion of free speech and a free press. And a serious first step would be for CNN to step up and instead of simply defending Jim Acosta start a CNN series that defends the First Amendment itself. And bring on people like James Damore (the fired Google guy terminated for disagreeing with internal Leftist PC doctrine). Not to mention Facebook’s fired Palmer Luckey, the latter the Facebook executive dismissed after it was revealed he had kicked in a $10,000 donation to a pro-Trump group. And oh yes, bring on Ben Shapiro. 

Great television, yes? Yes. Would CNN ever do something like this? 

Put me down as doubtful. Which is exactly the problem.

Column CNN Jim Acosta

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