September 27, 2008

Chill Wind, Part XIV

Lifting a segment from Taranto, link, stock and barrel.

Shut Up They Explained

While the McCain campaign is clashing with the media, the Obama campaign appears to be trying to intimidate its critics into silence. St. Louis's KMOV-TV has a disturbing report:

Prosecutors and sheriffs from across Missouri are joining something called the Barack Obama truth squad. . . . They will be reminding voters that Barack Obama is a Christian who wants to cut taxes for anyone making less than $250,000 a year. They also say they plan to respond immediately to any ads and statements that might violate Missouri ethics laws.

The report includes interviews with Jennifer Joyce and Bob McCullough, chief prosecutors for St. Louis city and county, respectively. Neither threatens to prosecute Obama's critics, so it's possible that the station's citing of "Missouri ethics laws" makes this look more troubling than it is. But ABC News reports that the Obama campaign is trying to silence criticism elsewhere:

In this letter sent this week to TV station managers from Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer, obtained by ABC News, the Obama campaign argues that a TV ad by the National Rifle Association should not air. "Unlike federal candidates, independent political organizations do not have a 'right to command the use of broadcast facilities,' " Bauer writes. "Moreover, you have a duty 'to protect the public from false, misleading or deceptive advertising.' " The Obama campaign takes issue with an ad called "Hunter," pointing out that claims in the ad were called "false" by Factcheck.org, andwas given three Pinocchios by the Washington Post's "Factchecker."

A copy of the letter is here. David Kopel has a detailed rebuttal of the Factcheck.org critique. Whatever one may conclude about the merits of the ad's claims, the notion that an ad should be suppressed because the Washington Post or the Annenberg Center disapproves of it flies in the face of America's tradition of open debate. Never mind what Obama thinks of the Second Amendment, there's reason to worry about the First.

UPDATE 9/29:

Via LGF, a message from Missouri Governor Matt Blunt:

“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.

“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.

“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts - not a free society.”

Blunt indeed.

They're calling these volunteer compliance troopers "Truth Squads"...

...coming in January..."Neighborhood Watch Groups"?

UPDATE 10/1: Andy McCarthy; "Obama's Assault on the First Amendment"

Posted by dan at September 27, 2008 1:54 AM