First Five Newsletter: December 5, 2019

First Five
Bill of Rights Day, protest meaning no protection, polls affecting impeachment coverage and more.

First Five Column

Katharine Kosin and Pierce McManus talk about ways to participate in the upcoming holiday on Dec. 15, Bill of Rights Day, encouraging people to break the cycle of ignorance and misinformation that threatens our fundamental freedoms. Read the column. A plain text version is available for publishers here.

News

Speaking to a roomful of police officers and prosecutors, Attorney General William P. Barr drew a parallel between protests against soldiers during the Vietnam War and demonstrations against law enforcement today. Barr suggested that those who don’t show “respect” to authority could lose access to police services, leading critics to question Barr’s suggestion in the speech that police could stop protecting those who protest them.

Technology

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki stated that the platform, a subsidiary of Google, will not ban President Trump’s misleading ads about Joe Biden. While Google’s policy disallows ads that make false statements of fact, the company considers the anti-Biden ads more akin to misleading political hyperbole.

Law

A federal district court judge ruled that Kentucky violated the First Amendment in denying a man a vanity license plate with the message “IM GOD.”

Scholarship

The One Free Press Coalition, a united group of preeminent editors and publishers using their global reach and social platforms to spotlight journalists under attack worldwide, issued its December “10 Most Urgent” list of journalists whose press freedoms are being suppressed or whose cases demand justice. Topping the list this month is Sophia Xueqin Huang, a journalist who has covered the extended and ongoing unrest in Hong Kong this year and has been detained in Guangzhou since October on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.”

Commentary

Writing for the Columbia Journalism ReviewJon Allsop argues that polls are playing too large a role in impeachment coverage, with many journalists and pundits repeatedly emphasizing that recent polls suggest the recent televised hearings didn’t substantially increase support for removing Trump from office. “It’s not the news media’s job to persuade people to back impeachment, but leaning too heavily on polls risks creating a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Allsop writes. “If we repeatedly tell people they’re unconvinced, aren’t they more likely to be unconvinced?”


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