1. What people say on TV or say in interviews has nothing to do with the First Amendment.
2. Free Speech, as it applies under the First Amendment, has been limited by the US Supreme Court in a few areas only. Those being obscenity, hate speech and yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.
3. Other than that, everything else anyone says is unlimited unless it effects someone in the Free Market. It is not a First Amendment issue.
Let me explain.
The First Amendment applies to speech that can be controlled either by the Federal Government or State Governments through application of the First Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment. So, whenever you hear anyone using the First Amendment to describe what someone says either on TV or Radio, it does not apply and has nothing to do with reality. Plain and simple. End of Story. It is not a First Amendment argument. It is being used by the pundit and/or writer for effect only. Either that or the person using it hasn’t got a clue about the law.
However, groups on both sides of the aisle confuse this intentionally and try to turn everything they disagree with into a First Amendment argument. For example, when Martin Bashir or Alec Baldwin let their tirades of hate go, stopping them has nothing to do with the First Amendment or Free Speech. They can say whatever they want and the government cannot stop them unless it is one of the exceptions set forth above.
The real issue here is the Free Market. MSNBC and A&E are private businesses. Only business and/or public opinion can stop them and no one else, especially under the guise of the First Amendment. So, let’s stop saying this is a Free Speech and/or First Amendment Issue. It actually bothers me when I hear people couching it in those terms, whether it be on Fox News or MSNBC. Those people just don’t know what they are talking about.
What happened when Phil Robertson from Duck Dynasty made his now infamous comments about gays and race. First MSNBC went off and liberals had a field day. Immediately thereafter, A&E and Cracker Barrel reacted. A&E said that the patriarch of the family would not be on any further episodes of “Duck Dynasty.” Cracker Barrel removed all “Duck Dynasty” merchandise from their shelves. Within a few days, the supporters of Mr. Robertson circulated petitions and showed their support in other ways, mostly through protests. A&E and Cracker Barrel backed down and now “Duck Dynasty” will prevail and continue as if this never happened.
Was this because “Free Speech” and the law prevailed? NO. It had nothing to do with Free Speech. It had to do with the market reacting and the market correcting.
A few years ago, there was a similar uproar over remarks made about gay marriage by the owner of the Chik-Fil-A franchise chain. I addressed this in the article entitled, “Democrats, The Party of Hate.” At that time, I made the same point. The market corrected itself. Chik-Fil-A was unharmed and actually thrived because the majority of people in their market either agreed with the owner’s comments or really didn’t care less.
The same is true of what happened to Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin, and for that matter Keith Olbermann. We all know the wonderful things that have come out of their mouths. There is no need to repeat them here. However, either MSNBC cracked under pressure when those pundits were fired and/or suspended, Or, MSNBC was reacting to the market. The people screamed about the comments and let their opinions be known. The market won.
So, you may be asking now, what is my point. It is very simple. These arguments by pundits are fare and good, but they have nothing to do with the First Amendment or its guarantees of Free Speech. They are about the market. And, as usual if the market is left alone by government, it will usually prevail.