When it comes to the First Amendment, the word “sacred” gets thrown around a lot, as do the terms “inalienable” and “self-evident”.
And with good reason. Without the ability to freely speak our minds, we are at the beck and call of whomever decided that we couldn’t or shouldn’t. In the days of the public pulpit, this wasn’t much of an issue, but now, in the age of the internet, we have a new threat to free speech to contend with.
Gatekeepers such as Facebook and Google have staked claims, as private companies, as to how they’d like supposedly free Americans to conduct themselves online. This has led to bans, shadowbans, censorship, de-platforming, and more.
And where do these entities get their recommendations from? So-called “fact checkers” and “watchdogs” who scour the internet for opinions they dislike and then report them to Google and others as if they had some sort of authority greater than that of the Constitution itself.
Backlash over this perversion of freedom has often been swift, and now one such “gatekeeper” has been forced to tuck tail and run.
The Poynter Institute, a journalism nonprofit organization, initially released a list of more than 500 “unreliable” news outlets purportedly “built from pre-existing databases compiled by journalists, fact-checkers and researchers around the country.”
But a number of prominent conservative-leaning outlets were included in the “unreliable” category, including The Washington Examiner, Washington Free Beacon, Daily Caller and other publications that employ scores of journalists covering Congress, elections, the White House and more. The index was created with the help of an employee for the Southern Poverty Law Center.
The following is music to the ears of liberty advocates:
Poynter’s managing editor, Barbara Allen, posted a mea culpa Thursday as the backlash built.
“On Tuesday, April 30, Poynter posted a list of 515 ‘unreliable’ news websites, built from pre-existing databases compiled by journalists, fact-checkers and researchers around the country. Our aim was to provide a useful tool for readers to gauge the legitimacy of the information they were consuming,” the statement read.
“Soon after we published, we received complaints from those on the list and readers who objected to the inclusion of certain sites, and the exclusion of others. We began an audit to test the accuracy and veracity of the list, and while we feel that many of the sites did have a track record of publishing unreliable information, our review found weaknesses in the methodology.
“We detected inconsistencies between the findings of the original databases that were the sources for the list and our own rendering of the final report.”
And this, my friends, is exactly what the Founders had in mind when they bestowed this sacred right on us.
Let freedom ring, y’all!