First Amendment on trial

By Joseph Farah

In a very real way, the First Amendment is now on trial in Washington.

For 19 months, my Internet news agency has been systematically denied the most fundamental access to cover the U.S. Capitol in the same way our competitors do.

After applying for credentials to the Senate Press Gallery, months of pleading, answering often intrusive questions over and over again, enduring insults, appealing denials not based on the law nor regulations guiding the gallery’s operations and operating at a distinct disadvantage as our reporters were prohibited unfettered access to the nation’s most important political institution, WorldNetDaily is about to file lawsuits in federal court to secure its rights.

Make no mistake about it – this is a landmark case.

The media landscape is profoundly changing in America.

No longer do Americans get their news from a handful of elite news-gathering agencies run by major corporate conglomerates.

WorldNetDaily is on the cutting edge of a media revolution that is good for this country, healthy for America, vital for this nation.

We take very seriously our mission as a government watchdog. We believe the central mission of a free press in a free society is to expose fraud, waste, abuse and corruption in our political institutions. That job is made tougher when self-appointed gatekeepers make arbitrary decisions designed to restrict unfettered access to lawmakers.

This is a fight we continue – not just for ourselves, for our reporters, for our company’s best interests, nor even for the readers who depend on us as a primary source of news. We continue it because it is the right thing to do, because it is the moral thing to do, because it is the only American thing to do.

The clock is running. Our attorneys notified the Senate Press Gallery and the Standing Committee of Correspondents who decide which news agencies and which reporters are worthy of covering the Capitol of our intent to sue last Friday. We have given them 10 days to provide our credentials or else.

It’s unfortunate that it has to come to this.

We would prefer not to spend our precious time, energy and money fighting in court for our most basic rights. We would prefer to spend our time, energy and money doing our jobs as journalists. We would prefer that reason would prevail. We would prefer the accountable elected officials realize the injustice being perpetrated and remedy it quickly. We would prefer that the committee members would cut their losses, realize they made a mistake and move on.

But it does not appear that wishful thinking or common sense will prevail in this matter.

The Senate Press Gallery shows no signs of backing down and applying the rules governing press access to the Capitol in an equal and fair way to WorldNetDaily and its representatives.

Frankly, I’m honored that WorldNetDaily is viewed as such a threat to the media status quo as to be singled out for this kind of political discrimination. It says something about our independence. It says something about the way the establishment press views competition from the New Media. It also says something about the state of the First Amendment in America when this kind of abuse can occur without even becoming a major story for anyone but WorldNetDaily readers.

Clearly WorldNetDaily is being kept out of Congress because of content discrimination.

If this situation is not remedied by the end of next week, WorldNetDaily will charge intentional violations of the First Amendment, intentional violations of the Ninth Amendment, business disparagement, defamation, intentional interference with economic advantage, antitrust violations, violations of “sunshine laws,” invasion of privacy and other unlawful conduct by the Standing Committee of Correspondents, which administers the Senate Press Gallery.

We may also target the media employers of these committee members, who, we believe, have provided the material support the individuals need to continue denying our First Amendment rights.

Once again, I ask your support in this fight.

You have generously given of your time and energy in calling and writing those responsible.

Now we need your help to take this fight into the courts. Our cause is right. Our cause is just. Our cause is noble. But without the financial support necessary to see it through, we will not prevail.
WorldNetDaily has established a Legal Defense Fund, set up originally to help support the newssite in its litigation with Al Gore crony Clark Jones in Tennessee and other legal challenges we face from time to time – like the current one with the Senate Press Gallery. Readers who wish to donate to help in these matters may do so in two ways:

  • Make a tax-deductible contribution to the U.S. Justice Foundation, the public-interest legal group that is handling WND’s case against the Senate Press Gallery in Washington. This same group is aiding in WND’s defamation case in Tennessee.

  • If tax-deductibility is not an issue, readers may donate directly to WND’s Legal Defense Fund.