An attempt to circumvent the Free Press, with a massive dose of projection.

22 Aug 2011 10:48 pm
Posted by: Donna

Today’s AZ Capitol Times reported that the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) is considering a requirement that all contacts between employees of the mapping firm (Strategic Telemetry) and the press (including bloggers) be tracked and logged.

I don’t put myself on the same plane as a straight journalist. As a blogger, I’m more interested in opining into the ether and letting y’all make what you will of it. But if someone from a government agency or government contractor with some inside information came to me and asked me to keep their name and position confidential, I expect to have the same First Amendment protection that traditional members of the press have.

The issue first came up last week, when the commissioners voted to require tracking of all contact between the group’s mapping firm, Strategic Telemetry, and anyone outside the commission.

That decision was made, according to Scott Freeman, one of the group’s two Republican commissioners, to “allay some public concerns” about the firm’s historic ties to Democratic campaigns and causes, and err on the side of transparency.

During the commission’s meeting, the group’s two Republicans said they were skeptical about allowing members of the media and bloggers to be exempt from the tracking measures adopted last week. They said that scenario could be exploited by anyone who decides to launch a blog and then claim they’re exempt from complying with the rules.

“It’s a loophole you could drive a Mack truck through,” Freeman said.

It’s not a loophole, Mr. Freeman. It’s freedom of the press. Journalists (including bloggers) have a right to keep conversations with sources off the record and to keep those sources anonymous. I’m guessing that the “public concerns” Commissioner Freeman cites come from the selfsame conservative operatives who catapult GOP propaganda across multiple right wing blogs in Arizona and who are instrumental in organizing grassroots-y rallies and protests across the state, with the full knowledge and support of the GOP establishment. Which I respect their right to do, much as I think they are dishonest hacks because, you know, freedom of the press.

I’m also guessing that conservative media hacks are projecting their own mendacity onto Strategic Telemetry and journalists (who may happen to be bloggers) seeking to inform the public about the redistricting process. They act as though anyone covering redistricting (from a non-Republican sympathetic perspective) must be a leftist instigator in cahoots with mapping company employees with socialist sympathies. So naturally it is imperative to impose Soviet-style press restrictions on the IRC.

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