If I think that my friends in the media are about to report a story inaccurately, I don’t caution them against reporting the story; I point them toward the facts.
That’s because I’m not TSA thug Sari Koshetz, who told journalists that they shouldn’t cover blogger Jonathan Corbett’s demonstration that nude scanners don’t work, because Corbett “clearly has an agenda” and should not “be aided by the mainstream media.”
If I were to caution reporters against a story, it wouldn’t violate the First Amendment because I am not the government. My coercive power is limited to the ability to file a defamation suit or not talk to the reporters the next time. A caution from me to the press would be nothing more than a reminder to get the facts approximately correct. When the spokesperson for a government agency cautions reporters against a story, there is inherently a threat of government action.
When Popehat confronted Koshetz, she didn’t bother denying that her caution was a veiled threat: “Any guidance provided is to caution reporters not to generalize that our technology doesn’t work or print something without all the facts, based on an inconclusive YouTube video.”
I wonder what it’s like to work for a government agency that doesn’t have to worry about that pesky bill of rights. Not a lot of fun, apparently.
Jamison Koehler would find my singling out Sari Koshetz “distasteful.” Refined sensibilities and the insipid blog posts they inspire will never change the world. If Sari Koshetz doesn’t like the negative attention she gets for trying to suppress the truth about TSA’s security theatre, she can quit and stop contributing to tyranny.
(H/T Amy Alkon, who should be on your must-read list.)