Remembering JFK: His incredible speech on the responsibility of newspapers to educate and challenge government

Remembering JFK: His incredible speech on the responsibility of newspapers to educate and challenge government

Summary: He reminds newspapers that they are they only industry to have special legal protection in the Constitution — and they need to use it.

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TOPICS: Censorship
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John F. Kennedy was one of the country’s most literate and best educated presidents. He is also the only president to have won a Pulitzer Prize.

Here are some extracts from the incredible speech above:

“The very word “secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and secret proceedings..."

“…there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control."

“…that is why our press was protected by the First Amendment— the only business in America specifically protected by the Constitution — not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize the trivial and sentimental, not to simply "give the public what it wants"

—but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to lead, mold educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.”

Topic: Censorship

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18 comments
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  • Please don't involve that immoral slimeball

    in this context. He did more than any other president to keep his whoring and drug abuse secret and out of the newspapers. He was good on taxes and defense and foreign policy which our current profuse liar could stand to learn from but unfortunately a very very poor example for your choosen points, which our current disaster in chief is following with scandal after cover up after cronyism.
    Johnny Vegas
    • He could always...

      ...quote Eisenhower's famous warning about the military-industrial complex.
      John L. Ries
    • A less flippant answer

      If the points Mr. Kennedy made in that speech were valid, then the speech stands on its own; we don't need to inquire into his personal life to determine whether or not he was right.

      Interesting that his wife, who probably knew more about his faults than anyone else on the planet chose over 30 years (and a second marriage) later to be buried with him anyway.
      John L. Ries
    • Wow...

      While I typically disagree with your opinions on these forums, I completely agree with you here.
      benched42
  • last time I checked, the freedom of speach did not apply

    to a specific industry.

    please, ZDnet, keep out of politics.
    ForeverSPb
    • 1st Amendment

      "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."

      The press is specifically singled out for protection, so the author's point is valid.
      itpro_z
  • Unfortunately, they can't use it if the courts refuse to enforce it.

    Makes no difference to those that shut everyone up.

    The courts HAVE to back the constitution... unfortunately, they are not doing their job.
    jessepollard
  • Not quite right

    Freedom of the press applies to all publishing, not just journalistic enterprises.
    John L. Ries
  • Freedom of the press is not what we now have...

    and what we have is a press that is in cahoots with the politicians. The press has become political, and the mainstream media is nothing but advocacy media, in support of liberal ideology. We have people go to journalism school who are taught that, their job is to "make a difference", and most of those graduating chose to make a difference with their liberal slant in their "journalism".
    adornoe
    • Then maybe...

      ...you should vote with your dollars. There are actually quite a few media outlets with a decidedly conservative/Republican slant, to include the local daily where I live.

      Or, you could make your media choices so you're getting both sides of the argument (maybe subscribe to both National Review and Mother Jones). You might even learn something.
      John L. Ries
      • Or maybe...

        ...you could take up journalism as a second career.
        John L. Ries
      • I already get all sides of the news, and I don't need National Review

        not Mother Jones for that. I'm quite aware of where the liberal side of the news comes from, and I'm quite familiar with the conservative side of the news.

        BTW, that's a pretty stupid statement regarding "voting with my dollars". As far as I'm concerned, money doesn't belong in politics. It should be one person, one vote, and no purchasing of favors from any party, and no purchasing of votes via promises to certain sections of the electorate. Vote buying should be outlawed.

        And, the way I see it, people should be educated enough to understand the issues, otherwise, we will end up with a dumb electorate deciding the composition of our government. Oh, wait! That has already happened. I'll bet you voted for Obama. ;)
        adornoe
        • You vote with your dollars...

          ...when you decide what publications (or whatever else) you want to buy (it's not what you do in the voting booth). But be warned that letting commentators tell you what other people think is highly unreliable. It's better to read or listen to what people themselves have to say if you really want to know what they think and why.

          The people you oppose may indeed be crazy, but you won't know that until you've heard them out.

          And I already said I voted for McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012 (that year, I voted for six Democrats, three Republicans, and one Libertarian). I would have voted for Obama over Santorum or most of the other Republican contenders, but they didn't get the nomination. My current record in presidential elections is three Democrats, four Republicans, one Independent, and one abstention (1 winner and 7 losers). Overall, I vote for Democrats more often than for Republicans (especially since moving to Utah), but I've always voted for individuals rather than for parties and I expect I always will.
          John L. Ries
    • adornoe: "in support of liberal ideology"

      I see. It was liberal ideology that was behind the U.S. invasion of Iraq under the G.W. Bush administration (and I will note that the majority of the U.S. Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, supported the invasion). And the vast majority of the U.S. "press" (quoted because of TV and radio) was beating the war drums for the war in Iraq at the behest of the Bush administration.

      Let's be honest, much of the U.S. "press" is a mouthpiece for the U.S. government no matter whether the current administration and/or Congress is dominated by Republicans or Democrats.

      And as for journalism school, when the majority of the the U.S. "press" organizations are owned and controlled by large corporations that are joined at the hip with most of the politicians in Washington, D.C., the journalism graduates aren't really given the opportunity to practice their craft.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • So, you didn't really have a difference of opinion, and you basically

        agree with me?

        You restated what I was saying, so, what is your point, if you have any?

        Bush's decision to invade Iraq has nothing to do with what I am saying. Also, the decision to go into Iraq was a policy decision which was backed by democrats and republicans. And, before Bush's decision, it was democrats who were advocating for removal of Hussein from Iraq. Those are the real facts, and Bush and republicans and democrats, and even the majority of the press, and the majority of the American people, approved of the invasion of Iraq and removal of Hussein. Democrats only "changed their minds" after they noticed that the Iraq war and removal of Hussein, were big winning policy decisions for Bush and republicans, and so, democrats decided to stop the support and start demonizing Bush before the next round of elections. Those are facts, and memos from democrats about their strategies prove those facts.

        Try to read and interpret my comments correctly. I don't approve of any type of press bias, be it from the left or the right. I would wish for the press to be neutral when it comes to "reporting". When it comes to opinion and commentaries, well, that's a different story. However, when the press blatantly shows support for a liberal policy, then it's no longer reporting and it has become advocacy media. That, whether you want to admit it or not, occurs much more often with the liberal members of the press. In fact, surveys prove that most members of the media are liberals, to the tune of around 90%.
        adornoe
        • If Bill Clinton had wanted to invade Iraq...

          ...he would have done it. His policy, as well as that of George H.W. Bush, with regard to Iraq was containment, not regime change (that's what the no-fly zones and sanctions were for) and both presidents appeared to have majority support from both parties on that issue. And I seem to recall that most of those who wanted to "finish the job" were Republicans, not Democrats.
          John L. Ries
        • Speaking of bias...

          ...are there any news outlets that you think are biased toward the right and would you care to name them? Are there any that you think are truly impartial?
          John L. Ries
  • American Journalism now is so far fallen..

    that it is simply the Goebbel-esqe propaganda arm of the obama regime
    TrishaDishaWarEagle