At Monday’s White House press briefing, chief spokesman Josh Earnest indicated that in light of the terrorist raid of Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices by jihadists, President Barack Obama would be taking a serious swipe at the First Amendment freedom of the press as it pertains to future anti-Jihadist articles.
The Daily Caller reported:
President Barack Obama has a moral responsibility to push back on the nation’s journalism community when it is planning to publish anti-jihadi articles that might cause a jihadi attack against the nation’s defenses forces, the White House’s press secretary said Jan. 12.
“The president … will not now be shy about expressing a view or taking the steps that are necessary to try to advocate for the safety and security of our men and women in uniform” whenever journalists’ work may provoke jihadist attacks, spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters at the White House’s daily briefing.
The unprecedented reversal of Americans’ civil-military relations, and of the president’s duty to protect the First Amendment, was pushed by Earnest as he tried to excuse the administration’s opposition in 2012 to the publication of anti-jihadi cartoons by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Back in Sept. 2012, then-White House Press Secretary Jay Carney criticized Charlie Hebdo for its publication of cartoon images lampooning Mohammad. He said, according to White House Dossier:
Well, we are aware that a French magazine published cartoons featuring a figure resembling the Prophet Muhammad, and obviously, we have questions about the judgment of publishing something like this. We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory. But we’ve spoken repeatedly about the importance of upholding the freedom of expression that is enshrined in our Constitution.
It’s obvious that the White House, as of Monday, hasn’t backed off from this position.
The First Amendment, as it pertains to the press’ reporting and analyzing of events, provides, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom … of the press….”
But over and above those rights that are guaranteed and protected under the Constitution, something else is at play here — something advanced by Ross Douthat in his Jan. 7 New York Times commentary:
“If a large enough group of someone is willing to kill you for saying something, then it’s something that almost certainly needs to be said, because otherwise the violent have veto power over liberal civilization, and when that scenario obtains it isn’t really a liberal civilization any more….”
Stated differently, when journalists back off of a story or sanitize its reporting and commentary of events out of fear of terrorist attacks, the terrorists have already won.