1. what if the military refused (which seems probable), should the journalist say sorry and not do his job? I agree that the trend for journalists is often do do exactly this - I don't call this free press...
I'm not talking about the right to free press, I'm talking about an explosive situation where someone just assumed it was business as usual and then when he found out that it wasn't was a bit of a jerk to boot. I don't assign any malice; actually I bet he was scared and just reacted instead of thinking.
The fact is that he should have had press credentials. There are many "public" places that require press credentials to get into or to be able to exercise the rights of the press. On the day of the most paranoia, he chose to be cavalier.
This isn't a story about free press. It's a story about a guy who writes for papers occasionally not thinking things through and then writing a nice rant portraying himself as the Righteous Press and the authorities as the Evil Opressors. The fact is that he reacted very badly without an ounce of sense. Yes, the whole thing was a misunderstanding, but his attitude just aggravated things.
All that being said, if he did have credentials, did ask, and was then refused with no explaination or official policy being announced, that would be something to be concerned about. This was just a jumpy guardsman being overzealous with a stupid freelancer thinking his rights were being trampled and then being an ass about it. The fault was on both sides.
2. If you have to ask for the permission to do something its obviously not a right anymore.
Please do not be sensastionalistic or naive. The FBI placed the entire nation into High Alert with a warning of immenent terrorist attacks. This is like saying that I have the right to walk anywhere in a city, even during protests and preparations for riots. Yes, it's well within my rights to cross a police line without asking, but I'm still going to get my ass kicked by some very edgy and tense police officers.
If he had a press badge this would be one thing. If he had announced his presence and intentions, again it would be an entirely different matter. But it wasn't either of those. He didn't have any credentials to show he was a member of the press and he snapped a photo of a security checkpoint and then quietly walked off.
If I'm a guardsman on the day that we expect attacks and I see a guy snapping photos of my checkpoint and not sticking around, I'd be suspicious. Now I still think the guardsman overreacted, but then I also think this reporter overreacted.
But then, he wanted a story. And he got one. Coincidence? Think about it.
Veritas otium parit. --Terence
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