The First Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to the freedom of speech. There are exceptions to that right, for example, shouting “fire” in a theater or lying under oath.
Regular citizens are subject to penalties for perjury. Why should we not expect public servants, elected representatives and news media to be held to the higher standard of being “under oath” in their public communications on which our well-being depends?
Most are not aware that lying is legally acceptable in a political campaign. That was affirmed by a 2012 United States Supreme Court decision called United States v. Alvarez which essentially states that intentional lies are protected by the First Amendment.
Equally troubling is a case where on Aug. 18, 2000, journalist Jane Akre won $425,000 in a court ruling for wrongful termination from a FOX news affiliate in Florida for not airing a segment about RBGH that Monsanto had rewritten 80 times to satisfy its interests; hence, misinformation regarding health concerns about cancer were allowed to air.
FOX appealed the case and prevailed on Feb. 14, 2003 when the jury decision was reversed on a legal technicality. The appeals court agreed with Fox that it is technically not against any law, rule or regulation to deliberately distort the news on television, “an argument that had been rejected by three other judges on at least six separate occasions.”
Enter “Fox News Wins Lawsuit To Misinform Public — Seriously” into your internet search engine for the full story.
If one believes that our system of governance requires an accurately informed electorate, what are concerned citizens to do to fight back against an increasingly corrupt court system, politicians and news media that have a license to lie? Given the law and Court rulings on the subject, there is little we can do through legislation.
Therefore, I urge everyone to ask all their elected representatives everywhere to publicly pledge that, when acting in an official capacity, they will speak as if “under oath in a court of law;” and they should ask the same of their surrogates and PACs.
If statements are found to be in error, they should promise to set the record straight ASAP. If they don’t pledge, don’t believe them!
I am also sending this letter to Move To Amend to ask that this concept be added to its efforts regarding corporate dark money in political campaigns.