Take Action: October 23, 2017 Protect our constitutional right of a free press and elections free of foreign interference

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

As Facing History notes, “The First Amendment’s connection of freedom of speech and freedom of the press is significant. Free speech and a free press together allow people to obtain information from a wide range of sources that are not dictated or restricted by the government, so that they can make decisions, develop opinions, and communicate their views to the government (by voting, assembling, protesting, sharing ideas, etc.). Together, free speech and a free press are essential to the public’s ability to become informed and to actively participate in a democracy.”

Unfortunately, there are those who would weaken the public’s trust in a free press.  In addition, more and more people get their news from the internet, where political ads are confused for credible journalism.  Here are some concerns and actions you might take:

  • Trump took to Twitter to downplay Russian interference in our election while disparaging our free press: “Keep hearing about ‘tiny’ amount of money spent on Facebook ads. What about the billions of dollars of Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC & CBS?”  Also: “It’s finally sinking through. 46% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS ORGS FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME. FAKE NEWS, even worse! Lost cred.” In response, Evan McMullin of Stand Up Republic tweeted: “Leaders who undermine the free press, while covering a foreign adversary’s aggression should be roundly rejected by the people.”  We can let Trump know that he is not upholding his oath to defend the Constitution:  The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20500 or on Twitter @realDonaldTrump. We can also let our MoCs know that the investigations must continue. (HT Rogan’s List)
  • Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), and John  McCain (R-AZ) have introduced the “Honest Ads Act” which would require Facebook, Google and other internet companies to disclose who is purchasing online political advertising (see also here).  Facebook and Google are responsible or 85% of all digital political ads, yet they claim they don’t indicate who is paying for these ads, as we learned when Facebook was forced to turn over Russian-linked ads to a congressional committee investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election. We can (1) urge our senators to back this bill and (2) let the Federal Election Commission know that the internet must no longer be exempt from the rigorous regulations to which paid television, radio and print political advertising has been subject for years: 1-800-424-9530 or Federal Election Commission, 999 E St NW, Washington, DC 20463  (HT Rogan’s List)
  • We need to think outside of the box to counter the onslaught of fake news. These articles (here and here) report on how other countries are dealing with this problem.  What can we learn from their tactics? (HT Rogan’s List)
  • The Hamilton 68 project displays data, updated weekly, about trending hashtags and Russian propaganda efforts on Twitter in near-real time. It’s not just about elections. They are constantly sowing division and chaos.  Hamilton 68 was created by Clint Watts, fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and at the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security at the George Washington University.
  • The Mercer family funds far-right hate groups like Breitbart. The Mercers make their money by charging hefty hedge fund fees to institutional investors, which include schools like Columbia University and Michigan State.  If we don’t want our school, city, or pension fund helping the Mercers, tell them to divest.  (HT Crooked Media) We can also ask Amazon to pull its ads from Breitbart.

Image Source