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Carl Paladino's Journalist-Ban, First-Amendment Problem

Oct 1, 2010

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Carl Paladino, the Republican nominee in the New York governor's race, seems to misunderstand how the news media work. And maybe the First Amendment, too.

In an interview with Fox Business News' Judge Napolitano on the program "Freedom Watch" that's scheduled to be shown Saturday, Paladino appears to believe that it's his call whether Fredric Dicker, the New York Post reporter he had his infamous hallway confrontation with, covers his campaign.

Paladino said:

"This reporter is a person that should be out of this campaign. I want him out. My daughter - I worry about her every day, I worry about her security."

Unfortunately for Paladino, it's not up to him whether Dicker covers his campaign or not. First, that's a decision that can only be made by Dicker's bosses at the New York Post.

And few things get editors' backs up more than when they believe someone, especially a politician, is trying to bully or intimidate them into changing their coverage decisions.

Second, there's the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. It reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Now, Paladino is supported by the Tea Party movement, which has placed adherence to the first principles of the Constitution at the top of its agenda.

And the Framers couldn't have been clearer; government was not to interfere with press freedom. That would include decisions like who does and doesn't cover a political campaign for government office.

So some reporters may want to ask Paladino, who wants to be governor of a state that operates under the U.S. Constitution and who is also a lawyer, how his demand that Dicker be removed from covering his campaign squares with the spirit of Constitution?

True, he's not governor yet. But there's no indication he wouldn't make a similar demand as New York's chief executive.

Still, how does his wish to ban a reporter from his campaign mesh with the First Amendment? The people of New York, including reporters, have a right to an answer.

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