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Free Speech shades of grey

Even though I consider myself very opinionated, there are times when I'm not sure what the right answer to a situation is. As I get older, things appear less and less black and white and it's no longer easy to come down on one side of an issue or another.

This is the recent state of affairs regarding a post I made a few days ago. Someone named James had commented to my post about Mayor Anderson's Freedom Forum on "The Right to Criticize the Government", saying:

He's not a first amendment hero, he's a political hypocrite who dresses himself up as a martyr when a blogger criticizes his views against the government

then turns around and blacklists journalists who are critical of his own administration.

It makes me ill. Especiall when those of us who should be joining the outrage worship him for taking pot- shots at shared political enemies instead of focusing on important things like freedom of speech in SLC

I asked for more information and was refered to a blog that refered to an article in the Deseret News, which stated that Mayor Anderson hadn't returned calls to anyone from the Deseret News. I emailed that reporter, who wrote me back yesterday:

It is true that Mayor Anderson and his spokesman are no longer returning our calls. They haven't for 13 days now. They still do send us press releases, however.

My first reaction to that was that comment was that it was hypocritical of Rocky to claim to be defending free speech on the one hand and punishing others for using it. It reminded me one of the tactics that Bush himself uses: keeping away reporters out of press conferences that ask the hard questions.

Then I had a conversation with someone who works for an organization that no longer talks to the DNews either. They've had many problems with exagerated headlines and misrepresentations and distortions.

Since that conversation I've gone back and forth between the two ideas, and I can say that I'm not sure what the answer is. Putting myself in that position, I would have a hard time continuing to respond to a media outlet that I felt distorted what I was saying or taking things out of context. But free speech and media access are important too.

So around and around my thoughts are going, and I'm nearly getting a headache trying to figure out what I would do in Rocky's place.


Update: I have emailed Mayor Anderson's office to get their side of the story. It may take a few days before I hear back.


[I'd like to see some others' views on this. Please feel free to comment to this post (click on speak below) and let me know what you think. If you don't have a LiveJournal account, please put your first name or initials in your comment so that I don't think of you as "anonymous". Also, please keep it respectful; no ad hominem attacks. Thanks.]


( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 18th, 2005 09:13 pm (UTC)
Why not pursue this with Rocky?
The more you learn the less you know or are sure of huh? And yet it is soothing in many ways too, at lest for me.

All of our rights have limits. It is interesting to define the boundaries.
There is always an excuse or a reason for doing something.
I have not seen any evidence in your posts of blacklisting journalists.
I also have not seen a justification for refusing to communicate to a major local news source.

Have you thought of following this up with your Mayor's office to find out why this is being done.

It is a bit troubling to me that there seems to be a double standard of sending information out to this source in a controlled manner while refusing to be questioned about matters of policy.

The jury is still out and free speech is the tool to get to the bottom of this issue.
Oct. 18th, 2005 10:22 pm (UTC)
Re: Why not pursue this with Rocky?
Thanks for your comments, eeyore.

I have been thinking of contacting Rocky's office to get another perspective on this, but haven't done it yet. It really does seem like the best idea.
Oct. 19th, 2005 10:42 pm (UTC)
After Serving as Interim Communications Director
...for Rocky, I will tell you that the difference between reality and what is reported in both newspapers, is often wildly different.

My perception of the media was low before taking that stint. It is lower now than I could have ever imagined.

Neither the Trib not the Des news have any sense of responsibility to truth. They are only out to sell paper. To that end, bashing Rocky is more popular, hence, they bash Rocky.

I could list so many deliberate misrepresentations its sickening.

Ken - Not speaking to the Desnews has nothing to do with free speach or the limitation thereof.

Thanks for coming to the Freedom Forum!

Oct. 20th, 2005 04:29 pm (UTC)
Re: After Serving as Interim Communications Director
Thanks for your post, Cliff.

("Ken - Not speaking to the Desnews has nothing to do with free speach or the limitation thereof."

The person commenting to that subject was "James" and not Ken.)

"I will tell you that the difference between reality and what is reported in both newspapers, is often wildly different."

After a conversation I had a couple of days ago with someone that works for an organization that doesn't speak to the DN because of a similar problem, it has certainly made feel conflicted.

I guess this is where Bush comes to mind. Couldn't he claim the same thing too? His admin has barred reporters from conferences, and tries to control which reporters he speaks to. I am not in any way defending Bush or claiming that Rocky is anywhere near as dishonest as Bush, but I could see how a Bush supporter might bring up the argument.

This is why I'm feeling so conflicted on this issue. If we (meaning progressives in general) criticize Bush for throwing roadblocks in front of critical reporters, it seems strange to give Mayor Anderson a pass on it. Yet on the other hand, why spend the time and energy to talk to reporters that tend to distort what is said?

I understand that the conservative media in Utah is generally hostile to Mayor Anderson. Even the center-left City Weekly has been pretty harsh. I think some of it might come from the collective frustrations of thousands of conservatives who are angry that Mayor Anderson is one of the few politicians in this state that is beyond their control.

Oct. 20th, 2005 04:33 pm (UTC)
A comment from Lawrence
This comment from Lawrence ended up in another post, but I believe it was meant for this one, so I've copied and will paste it here:

Did you see Rocky's excellent reply to the DesNews smear campaign in the 10-19-05 DeSnooz, I mean Deseret News? Assumed in any conversation with a reporter is this: the reporter will accurately and fairly report. If the reporter writes falsehoods about you and dishonestly distorts your words that he garners from an interview, I think freedom of association allows a politician to say, "screw you, get your information from the press releases because you are not to be trusted to tell the truth if I allow another interview." Simple as that. No Bushy conservative criticizes Bush for blackballing the NYTimes. I criticize Bush on this because Bush has no case against the NYTimes. Rocky has a very good case against the DesNews for publishing a smear campaign. It's unfortunate that the News has such low journalistic standards. I wonder if LaVarr Webb or some of the other esteemed political writers associated with the News are concerned. The News is too often a political tabloid for the Republican powers that be in Utah. Rocky wins another case.

Lawrence Buhler

Oct. 20th, 2005 07:33 pm (UTC)
Slc Media
Now that Rocky’s popularity is on the rise again, the powers that be have to find a new way to stop thinking people from getting behind any of the Progressive movement.
The blue-green filter we see through in the city, turns hotter with the red hues outside the Metropolis.
Caring policy works in the western states as well or better than the” I got mine “Face-it, we’re not changing for anybody, msm crap. The problem for most of us is that reading the paper each day seems like we’re doing our part as citizens, when what we’re really doing is just misinforming ourselves if we don’t back up our opinions with some alternate source information.

Good job getting your blog out to the people who do care about more than just the bottom line. The Quality of life in our city and state will be greatly effected by citizens who aren’t satisfied with the “Because I said so”, answers we see in the Des news and the Trib.
It's all playing out on the National stage as we sit here. Check out firedoglake.blogspot.com

For local happenings, votehouse.org
Oct. 20th, 2005 08:55 pm (UTC)
Couple things
I would modify Cliff's statement that "I will tell you that the difference between reality and what is reported in both newspapers, is often wildly different." to read "I will tell you that the difference between reality and what is reported in [any news outlet], is often wildly different."

And I would like to ask Cliff: how is it that "Not speaking to the Desnews has nothing to do with free speach or the limitation thereof" when not speaking to the Desnews, but still speaking to the Tribune, appears to be retaliation for the Desnews exercising its first ammendment rights (albeit in a journalistically irresponsible etc etc way)?

And to annonymous at votehouse.org who begins "Now that Rocky’s popularity is on the rise again," I would say what an interesting reality it must be that you live in.

Oct. 20th, 2005 09:32 pm (UTC)
Re: Couple things
Mike wrote:

"And to annonymous at votehouse.org who begins "Now that Rocky’s popularity is on the rise again," I would say what an interesting reality it must be that you live in."

I want to ask again that we please keep this respectful, and this sounds like it's bordering on a personal attack. Maybe instead you can say why you think that "votehouse"'s opinion on Rocky's popularity is off base -- maybe you've seen some poll results, or know of former Rocky supporters that are no longer supportive. That kind of thing.

Thanks for commenting, Mike.
Oct. 20th, 2005 09:59 pm (UTC)
Re: Couple things
At the risk of posting a meaningless comment, I would just like to say "sorry about that" A re-read of my comment certainly does get close to a personal attack and that was not my intention. I even "previewed" reread it before it was posted. [my, that sounded surprisingly similar to what a politician would say after a stupid statement. I was sincere about it which makes me wonder if they are too. Hmm].

Anyway, thanks for an interesting blog/journal and regards,
[note correct spelling of email address]
Oct. 20th, 2005 10:37 pm (UTC)
Re: Couple things
No problem Mike, I appreciate you contributing to the discussion.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )


Sunflower A
Jennifer Killpack-Knutsen
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