Michael Oberndorf
Time to define "The Press"
By Michael Oberndorf
January 20, 2018

Language, unless closely defined, is a fluid thing, open to myriad interpretations of individual words by individual people. Lawyers are perhaps the worst offenders when it comes to taking words and twisting them to have a meaning never intended by the author of a particular sentence. It seems appropriate at this anniversary of the Monica Lewinsky scandal in a time of leftist hysteria over "sexual harassment and abuse" to recall Slick Willie Clinton's famous, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is. If the – if he – if 'is' means is and never has been, that is not – that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement....Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true." Some might call this obfuscation. Many would call it an outrageous, self-serving manipulation of undefined language to escape having to tell the truth.

In the law, definitions are of prime importance. The clearer and tighter the definition, the less likely that there will be interpretations that lead to confusion of intent and/or compliance, and abuse. Since a majority of the members of Congress throughout the history of our great (thank you, Mr. Trump!) country have been lawyers, when laws have been written where the language is open to interpretation, we must assume that this has been intentional. As an archaeologist, I run up against this on a regular basis. One of the criteria for determining how certain archaeological sites on federal land must be dealt with uses the phrase, "That have yielded or may be likely to yield, information important in history or prehistory." Huge problem here: what is the definition of "important in history or prehistory"? Get 10 people in a room, and you'll get 10 different definitions. Add to that, "...may be likely to yield..." and you have an interpretive nightmare for those trying to apply/comply. Since this was written by lawyers, was this intentional, or just sloppy? Since we find this sort of undefined, ambiguous language in most of our environmental laws, too, and since those laws have been interpreted by leftist radicals and leftist judges to have meanings that those who voted them into law probably never intended, one is inclined to say, yes, all of this has been intentional.

There is an overabundance of laws containing problematic language like this. And there are even terms in our founding documents that probably need to have strong, clear definitions added. Take the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights, and the term, "...the press...." Today, we have a situation where "news" outlets like CNN and MSNBC have become nothing but platforms for radical leftists out to undermine, and thus overthrow, the duly elected president and the members of his political party. The New York Times and the Washington Post are almost as bad. They commit fraud and sedition on a daily basis, knowingly, and with malice aforethought, spewing out an endless stream of lies and distortions that if they were not seen as protected by the 1st Amendment, would be considered libel, slander. They publish/broadcast illegally obtained "leaks" that in some cases appear to border on treason. It seems pretty obvious that this is not what James Madison and the others had in mind when they wrote, "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of...the press...."

Given the viciousness that the attacks by "the press" have taken on in the past couple of years as it became clear that the left and their goal of a totalitarian, all-pervasive government was being soundly, roundly, and resoundingly rejected by a majority of the citizens of America, it is time that we consider adding a clear definition of just what constitutes "the press," clearly making a separation between news and editorial/political opinion, to the 1st Amendment. Congress has the authority to do this. Such a definition could go a long way to ending the politics of personal destruction that has become a major weapon in the totalitarian left's seditious arsenal. I would open them to the legal libel and slander restraints the all the rest of us rightly live with. It might actually encourage them to return to reporting news and actual, verified facts.

And while you think about this, you might want to consider the fact – repeat, fact – that fully 90% of our newspapers and TV networks and stations are owned by only six corporations. Can you say, "Anti-trust laws," boys and girls? Sure you can.

© Michael Oberndorf


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Michael Oberndorf

The son of a German immigrant, Michael Oberndorf is an archaeologist by profession, with a BA from Metropolitan State College of Denver, and an MA from Leicester University, in England. He's also the Chairman of the Freedom21 Legislative Committee. Over the years, he has lived and worked all over the country, and traveled in Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Europe, Australia, and Japan. He sincerely believes in the old saying, "America, love it or leave it." Michael can be reached at: moberndorf@yahoo.com


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