“Freedom Of The Press”

All the bitterness about Mr Trump calling journalists names making him look like he may want to challenge “the rule of law”, especially the law pertaining to free speech and its adjunct “freedom of the press” has made me think about that expression “freedom of the press” and wonder if the press is really “free” especially after viewing the 1939 movie “Mr. Smith Goes To Washington“. And I ’m reminded of the Roman tribune especially when the word tribune is included in news publications that borrow the word as in “The Chicago Tribune“. And that Roman republican era tribune seemed to have a lot of freedom to take on causes drag people before the senate and even promote laws. Since the office of tribune arose from the gripes of the plebeian underclass, no patrician was eligible to run for tribune even though a tribune could promote anyone’s interests even a patrician‘s. The dictator Julius Caesar had some regard for tribunes. I remember him derisively shouting the name of Pontius Aquila, a tribune, who refused to stand as he rode past in his triumphal procession asking if the tribune wanted to bring back the Republic. I think that that kind of authority is what journalists lack: they always seem dependent while seeking attention and respect through writing or talking on television hoping that what they say can convey power, not the individual elected power of a constitutional office like the tribune’s but through sharing opinions of peers, sort of being on the right side.

Still they seem resigned to their readers and viewers not liking or respecting them, even though they feel they are helping voters decide who to vote for. It’s funny though that only Mr. Trump calls them names, not Ms. Clinton and certainly not Mr, Sanders.

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