With the Mike Bishop attempt at censoring a legitimate news source simply because they criticized him almost a month old, some in the mainstream and corporate media are just now getting around to putting their two cents in. Some get it, but apparently some do not understand the 1st Amendment.
As you know, back on Aug. 3 Senate Majority ‘leader” Mike Bishop, R- Rochester, blocked access to the liberal blog "Blogging for Michigan" and only BFM from Senate computers. Bishop and his staffers blamed, depending on who asked and the time of day, that BFM was banned for saying mean things about Republicans, or political staffers should not waste government time by reading political content or the assistant communications director for the Senate Democrats Communications was running the blog. It took four days of pressure from other liberal bloggers, one conservative blog and the mainstream media for him to relent.
Some mainstream media outlets, like the Traverse City Record Eagle, got it, and they called Bishop out on his classic example of censorship: the government trying to silence the press for criticizing him. Unfortunately, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus does not get it.
In an editorial today, the conservative and corporate editorial board is parroting the rightwing topic talking point that it was a simply “mistake” by Bishop.
“The mistake made by Bishop, or whoever decided to block the site, was a basic one. Few would challenge an honest attempt to improve productivity at state offices. But this attempt was obviously aimed at blocking access to a particular site.”
Are they for real? A mistake? Then they would have no problem with the Senate blocking access to their web site. Productivity and wasting time has nothing to do with it. Senate staffers answer questions from constituents everyday on issues facing the public and current affairs, and they should have access to every available news source. It seems the only mistake Bishop made was underestimating the reaction and he thought people would not be paying attention. The “Bishop made a mistake” defense popped up on the show “Off the Record” this weekend when one of the righting bloggers on the show used it.
Unfortunately, it gets even worse, and the P & A is arguing for the government to censor all blogs. The only possible explanation I can come up with is they have a lack of respect for blogs, and they don’t consider them legitimate news sources.
“If Bishop wants to make and enforce rules about appropriate workplace behavior, that's fine. But his rules have to be content-neutral. In other words, either ban all political Web sites or none.”
I would like to hear the outcry from them if Bishop banned all newspaper web sites. You would hear from me, and I would go to the defense of the P & A. Any attempt to censor a newspaper is met with immediate response from the newspaper and the Michigan Press Association (MPA). It should be met with outrage.
Some four or five years ago the Howell City Council tried to pass an ordinance that would limit or move newspaper vending boxes from the downtown main four. There was a restaurant there with outdoor seating and numerous paper vending boxes, but most were from the free shopper and real estate publications, as well as all of the state’s major newspapers and the P & A. It was almost impossible for pedestrians to get by the bottleneck.
The newspaper's management immediately contacted Dawn Phillips Hertz, the MPA attorney, and they rightfully quickly put a stop to it because any restriction of getting the news to the public is a violation of the 1st Amendment. The city backed off of that position. Why? Because it made a mistake by demanding they be moved by a law instead of just asking.
That was an honest mistake. What Bishop did was not.