Big Journalism reported last week about Judge Marco A. Hernandez’s verdict in Oregon against the independent blogger Crystal Cox. Cox was sued by the Obsidian Finance Group for the several blogs she started where she made the financial company her target. The judge used one of the blog posts where Cox published lots of factual information about the firm; correct information, granted, but coming from an unidentified source and therefore unprovable. Crystal Cox appealed to the “shield laws” in Oregon protecting journalists from disclosing their sources. The Judge’s decision was that Cox is not a journalist and therefore she is not protected by the “shield laws.”
How did Judge Hernandez decide Cox wasn’t a journalist?
Because she wasn’t “affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system.”
In other words, if you are not part of the MSM, you aren’t entitled to the protection they have.
Now, I am not saying that Crystal Cox is innocent and that she shouldn’t prosecuted and sentenced. I don’t know all the details for the specific to say such a thing. And besides, the Internet is a scary thing: never before has information been so cheap to obtain and publish, and never before has slander been so cheap produce and publish. Unjust attacks on reputation – especially if it is the reputation of a company – carry the moral equivalent of theft, and they must be prosecuted. Whether Cox’s attacks against the Obsidian Financial Group were just or unjust, I can not say.
What is really alarming in the Judge’s decision is something else: the judicial separation between an independent blogger and the MSM. The verdict implies that if Crystal Cox was a “journalist” – whatever that term might mean – she would be able to get away with slander and lies. The “professionals,” we all know, are above the law; the “shield laws” work for them but not for the rest of us. And “professionals,” of course, is defined by standards that were around before the advent of the Internet. Which pretty much means, “ancient.” OK, let’s not be that judgmental, and just call them medieval standards.
Indeed, what Judge Hernandez has done is to establish the medieval guild system in the 21st century, in the field of journalism. A person must be a part of the guild to be protected. The commoners out there can not enjoy the same protection. The same medieval guild system that for centuries discouraged innovation, free enterprise, and growth. The same medieval guild system that today is re-born in the government-protected labor unions, in the legal privileges for lawyers, government workers; and the same system that restricts the entry into the medical profession thus driving up the healthcare prices. When that system is applied to the economy, economic growth is arrested. When it is applied to journalism, truth is arrested; and indeed, before Internet, when the protected MSM controlled the information market, truth was the last to find an outlet to the mass audiences.
The economic growth in Europe didn’t happen until the guild system was dismantled and people were free to innovate, trade, and profit from their own ingenuity and industry. Similarly, the lies plaguing this nation will keep thriving as long as we have judges like Judge Hernandez who judicially enforce such guild system for the protection of official liars. Truth will only triumph when equality under the law is instituted: No “shield laws” for anyone, prosecution for lies and slanders for everyone.
Of course, that will mean that most MSM bosses and their journalists will have to spend their lives in prison and go bankrupt. Who will protect the political establishment from the truth then?