One of the principles of Natural law is that everyone must be accountable for their actions. This includes the press. If immunity from prosecution and/or civil suit is granted to the press, it removes any possibility of holding the individual’s in the press accountable for their actions. The story about the alleged connections between Trump and the Russians is an excellent illustration of why individuals must be allowed to sue the press.
Before I make my case, let me make something perfectly clear: I am not a Trump supporter. I believe there is little real difference between him and his agenda and that of the Obama Administration, and that what differences there are have less to do with where they want to take the country and more about how they plan to take us there. Now, with that said, allow me to explain why granting the press immunity is counter to Natural Law and Liberty.
Imagine you were given immunity for anything you said or did to other people. What would stop you from harming others — especially if it benefited you to do so? Most of us would like to think we wouldn’t harm other people for personal benefit, so our first instinct is to dismiss my question. But we are human, and there is not a human alive who has not — willingly — harmed another person for selfish reasons. Now, we may not see it this way. Or we may not realize the times we caused harm to others. But the fact remains: every one of us has harmed others to serve ourselves, and e will do so again in the future. So, why should we believe that people in positions of power won’t do the same, especially when they have been given great power and immunity from the consequences of their actions?
There are few people in our society who wield more power with less accountability than those in the press. They can print or air anything they wish, then use it to destroy the lives and careers of anyone they wish and they are all but immune to any legal recourse. If you doubt me, consider the case of Sarah Palin. Do you remember her comment about being able to see Russia from her back door in Alaska? Or how the press used that line to ridicule her and destroy her political career? Well, she didn’t say that, and the press knew it. The line actually comes from a Saturday Night Live skit in which Tina Fey played the role of Sarah Palin in a skit. But this didn’t stop the media from reporting Fey’s words as though they were Palin’s, or from using the lie to harm Palin in tangible ways. This is a violation of Natural Law. It is both a lie and an act of violence against another person, and had it been between two private citizens, Palin would have been able to sue. In some cases, the person behind the law may have even been subject to criminal prosecution.
Now we have a similar situation with the story about Donald Trump being connected to Russia. There is no evidence of any which directly connects Trump, or any of his people, to the Russians — and the media knows this because they have reported it:
In fact, Obama even admitted there is no evidence that the Russians hacked the DNC:
So, why is the media still reporting a lie? Or, to put it the way President Trump likes to say, why are they printing ‘Fake News?’ Well, the answer to that one is simple: because they can! And they can do it because Congress repealed the laws that made it illegal to print propaganda in the U.S., but has done nothing to allow injured Parties to sue the press. Both are violations of Natural law.
Now, I anticipate that there will be many who claim the press needs immunity to stay ‘free.’ And to those people, I say:
“Then why don;t I have immunity for my actions?”
If freedom requires immunity to the law, then why are any of us held accountable to the law? Now, this may sound absurd — but only to those lawless personas among us. To the rest of us — to those decent, law-abiding members of society — the absurdity is that the press is immune whereas we are not. If we are free but not immune from the law, then there is no requirement for immunity. However, if freedom requires immunity, then there can be no such thing as law: only Anarchy. This means that those claiming the press needs to be immune to remain free are arguing for Anarchy, and that is also a violation of Natural law as they are arguing for the destruction of the Natural Contract which forms and binds all of society together.
The truth is: there is no requirement for immunity in order for the press to remain free. All that is required is that there be no direct government influence over what the press is and isn’t allowed to print. This is what the term ‘free press’ actually means: a press in the hands or and controlled by private citizens and not the government. It is similar to the freedom of religion, which is why it is no coincidence that the First Amendment covers and protects both institutions from government control. But being free does not mean one if free to harm without consequence. If the press causes tangible harm to another person — public or private — it should be held accountable to the law in the same way as any private citizen is. In fact, not to hold the press equally accountable to the law is a violation of the 14th Amendment (as currently interpreted and applied), as well as Natural Law. This makes the press’s current immunity illegal under both man’s and Nature’s laws and it is why we should be allowed to sue the press when they cause harm to others.
But there is one more objection I need to address before I rest my case. People will no doubt argue that the press needs to be immune from prosecution when they harm others who are actually guilty. Suppose the press exposes a corrupt government official, or a corrupt billionaire. Couldn’t either of these two people then sue the press for what they claim is tangible harm? NO! Yous see, under Natural Law, a person who is in the wrong cannot be harmed by someone who is in the right. If the press prints the truth about a corrupt official or businessman, and that official or businessman looses everything as a result, there is no harm to that person because that person was — themselves — a harm in the first place. By abusing their position, power and/or wealth, they are the one who is doing the harm to society. In such a case, the press is actually righting the wrong of the official or businessman. Therefore, the press need only concern itself with making sure that it only prints the truth, and that it can support the truth of any claim it prints. If the press does so, it is immune, not because the law exempts it, but because it has caused no tangible harm. However, if the press were to print false or even unsubstantiated accusations against our official or businessman, and they are harmed as a result, then our official or businessman would have a right to sue the press. The added beauty of this system is that it not only holds people accountable for their actions, but it causes people to give pause — just as the law is supposed to do. The law is supposed to presume innocence and, in a case where there is reasonable doubt, give the benefit of that doubt to the accused. If the press could be sued for their actions, then they would be wise to presume innocence, as well, and where there is lack of evidence, chose not to print a story for fear that it could end up costing them and not the person they attack.
This is Natural Law, and the press is not immune…except in a corrupt and lawless society.