Leakers threaten freedom

By Walter B. Bull Jr.

Leaking confidential governmental information by an unidentified person to a sympathetic member of the news media is an increasingly useful technique to help influence public opinion.

This pathway, however, is a dangerous gamble.

And while short-term results are appealing, both leakers and the enabling free press could set the stage for an overreaction, with the result of a loss of freedom for all.

Sooner or later, an eager beaver driven by personal motives will overreach.

The information could originate within a governmental agency, embellished by a member of the press who allows his preference to impact the translation and enhanced by other reporters who “want” the information to be correct.

The variables are endless, and the impacts are unpredictable.

A journalist who has carefully cultivated his “sources” balances many options in going about his job. Sometimes public interest is low on the totem pole during the process, topped by political goals that have earned the loyalty of the writer.

Often, the work environment has general sympathy with the reporter, his editor and the management of each publication.

robert mueller.v3Without a sympathetic press, the “leak” would not make it into the public domain. (As in the case of the recent leak of a list of questions Special Counsel Robert Mueller desires to ask President Trump). 

The simple fact that news stories based on leaks represent an illegal series of events means that potential overreaction includes internal regulation, criminal prosecution and a serious loss of public confidence in all public media.

Gossip is a human trait, and the public has a willing ear for the stories.

That said, freedom of the press must survive as the founders intended — a public safeguard against corruption, power aggregation, self-dealing and political ambition.

Over time, the leak culture will self-correct in the bright sunlight.

The war on Trump rages on

By Norman Zanetti

Recently, sitting on my front porch, I  watched a breeze blow the Stars and Stripes to a beautiful horizontal. A short time later, a thought occurred to me — a scary “what if.”

What if an incredibly malleable electorate were to succumb to a systematic gutting of confidence in Republican initiatives and their leaders, especially an elected president?

The media continues to camouflage the benefits of tax relief, sensible border control with proper vetting, sanctions on terroristic regimes, job gains, reduction in the number of Americans on food stamps, the lowest unemployment rates for minorities, and renewed confidence in our economy by every consumer index that reports it.

The scariest contingency to contemplate is that Americans are taking all these muddling allegations of nefarious behavior without questioning where they come from and why. Those leaning to the ideological left are betting on American complacency.

The truth forthcoming will destroy mountains of lies. Skeptics are surfacing and reaching out to listeners.

They are working overtime to expose the chicanery and mudslinging against an elected administration, an administration dealing with North Korea, Russian provocations and trade imbalances — all while delivering on programs that got candidate Trump elected.

Prosecutorial overreach by implication has worn thin, and Americans sense it. It is being questioned and reversed by skeptics.

The mandarins in Congress and heads of news organizations will soon have to accommodate these new revelations being unearthed or lose total creditably.

If that comes too late, I can see our proud flag bellowing in the wind with teardrops and drooping in fatigue.

Remain a sophisticated skeptic in your own right. Americans voted in the millions for Trump. Not a single vote was cast for media heads who despise him, or prosecutors hell-bent on destroying him.

Norman Zanetti is a contributor to ResolveNC.blog.

NC leads on free speech

North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest and fellow state Republicans go into 2018 with considerable momentum, owed to last year’s numerous legislative victories and despite ever looming veto threats and lawsuits courtesy of Democrat Governor Roy Cooper.

In a December 31 op-ed for North State Journal, Forest summarized legislation that originated in his office in 2017. In particular, he heralded adoption of a Campus Free Speech Act by the Board of Governors of the University of North Carolina system, which “helps restore and preserve free speech on our public university campuses.”

While this objective might strike some as common sense and overdue, the law places North Carolina and its public universities squarely in a position of national leadership at a time when disrupting campus speech — in classrooms and in public forums, or by forcing speakers to be “disinvited” — has emerged as a core tactic in the left’s so-called “resist” movement. As the Democrat party moves further left and pursues an ever more radically progressive agenda, college campuses are devolving into battlegrounds, thick with tension.

The NC law (HB527), sponsored by Rep. Chris Mills (R-Pender), inevitably will become a substantive pillar on which Forest can campaign in his likely run for the Governor’s mansion in 2020, especially if Forest is forced to contend with a field of other Republicans — Phil Berger, Pat McCrory, or U.S. Senator Thom Tillis — for the nomination. When he hits the campaign trail, Forest would be wise to repeat the words he wrote in his North State Journal op-ed last month.

The job of government and our universities is not to shield individuals from speech they might find offensive, but to commit to the principles of free speech, including spontaneous demonstration and access to campus consistent with the First Amendment.

Forest and fellow Republicans also have a golden opportunity to remind voters — often — that the bill passed into law without Cooper’s signature. His inaction was not unintentional. Cooper didn’t forget to sign it. So what was his underlying message to Democrats in North Carolina and beyond?

In its reporting on the bill’s passage, Generation Opportunity state director Anna Beavon Gravely told Carolina Journal that it appears Cooper supports campus environments “where unelected employees of state government are able to intimidate into silence the views that are not their own.”

If the sitting Governor of North Carolina believes that, it is never too early to begin working to unseat him. Let it begin now.