Saturday, September 02, 2017

Wrestling the First Amendment

In the "Trials of the Free Press" episode of his podcast, journalist Sam Sanders has a meta-meta discussion about the vulnerability of journalism -- and therefore of democracy itself -- to the legal maneuverings of a few disgruntled elites. Fellow NPR journalist David Folkenflik and filmmaker Brian Knappenberger join Sanders to discuss Nobody Speak: The Trials of a Free Press.


Written and directed by Knappenberger, the film starts with Hulk Hogan's legal takedown of the admittedly trashy news site Gawker. It delves deeper, however, into the strategies of those who envision a world with no free press at all -- and who might just have enough money to make it happen.

 

Image: IMDb
Lagniappe

I am famous (at least in my own household) for forgetting the names of films and characters, and for simply substituting my own synonyms. I'm like a walking, pointless thesaurus in that way. So when we were looking for this film on Netflix, I first misdirected Pam to the title "Shut Up." That was not getting us anywhere, but it really is the main message of them film, as unpatriotic billionaires use their money to silence reporters. Rather, to attempt to silence reporters.

It also reminded me of the Chico Buarque song "Calice," a brilliant work or resistance during Brazil's authoritarian period. As I describe in my 2013 Creative Resistance post, the title is a pun, playing on the similarity between the Portuguese words for chalice (as in the cup of the Last Supper) and shut up (which was what journalists and artists in Brazil were being told by those in power). My 2014 Overcoming Condor post describes the journalist whose killing was part of the inspiration for Buarque, and the role of the United States in supporting the Brazilian regime in those days.

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