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October 19th, 2019

larry phillips mugshotGUEST COLUMN, Larry Phillips, Kismet


The release of Mark Levin’s book, “Unfreedom of the Press,” will mark an historical point in the death of “a free press” in the United States, which will be cited by history as happening during the early 21st Century.

Our nation has had a remarkable history of press freedom for nearly 227 years since the states approved 10 Amendments making up the Bill of Rights to the Constitution on Dec. 15, 1791. 

It’s first amendment was freedom of speech, thus freedom of the press.

The so-called “press” was a late comer to the colonies. When one looks into its history, you discover a familiar name who would become, in his time, the most famous and prosperous press man in the colonies – Benjamin Franklin.

German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg is usually cited as the inventor of the printing press sometime between 1440 and 1450. Yet, its appearance in the American colonies didn’t happen until sometime in the late 1680s. 

In the book, “Benjamin Franklin,” written by John Bach McMaster and published in 1887, he explained how a Salem, Mass., historian discovered a four-page pamphlet entitled “Publick Occurrences, Both Foreign and Domestick,” in London’s State Paper Office. It was dated Thurs., Sept., 25, 1690.

The piece was printed in the colonies and the local General Court there said it “… contained reflections of a high nature, (and) that it was printed contrary to law…” The court subsequently  ordered the writer to cease printing anything “till a license had first been obtained (from the court).”

At that time, it was considered the first magazine, pamphlet or newspaper ever printed in the colonies. It wouldn’t be until 14 years later a newspaper was printed, which was begun by a Boston postmaster.

Franklin, who was born in 1706, the youngest of 10 children, learned to read around 8, and he became obsessed with reading and finding books or papers, even wills and government notices to read. It would turn him into a man of letters, as they called it then.

But when Franklin was learning to read, “a printing press was a rare show,” McMaster explained. “Neither in New Hampshire, nor Rhode Island, nor New Jersey, nor Delaware had such a thing been seen.

“(Franklin) was 3 before a type was set in Connecticut,” McMaster continued. “He was 23 before one was permanently set up in Virginia and another year passed by before a printer appeared in the Carolinas.”

What’s more important is the fact printers rarely ever printed much of things not associated with the church. McMaster noted between January 1706 and January 1718, the known publications printed in the colonies numbered at 550.

“Of these, but 84 are not on religious topics,” McMaster wote. “And of the 84, 49 were almanacs.”

Fortunately for young Franklin, he was apprenticed to his older brother, James, when Ben was 12 in 1718. A year later, James began to print the “second newspaper” in America.

While setting type and mixing ink, Ben began to write. He wrote ballads in “doggeral verse” about subjects that “filled the popular mind,” ballads about pirates getting killed and a well-known man drowning. His true literary career actually took off when he was 15 and living on his own.

In 1722, James and Ben had printed a flippant article about pirates and how the government was fitting out a ship to go after them. The jest brought charges by the Council and the Massachusetts House of Representatives.

James was jailed for a month while Ben took over publishing the “Courant.” In January 1723, James again incurred the wrath of government when he challenged the behavior and remarks by the Governor. This dispute ended with the General Court charging him with printing an “essay on religious hypocrisy.” 

James was forbidden to print anything, “except it be first supervised by the Secretary of the Province.”

Benjamin eventually went on to operating his own print shop and faced constant threats and abuse from government councils and officials, militias, churches, merchants and advertisers to become the most famous and prosperous printer and publisher of the 1700s. 

His battle for “a free press” concluded with the approval of the 10 Amendments to the Constitution in 1791.

Imagine having to get permission from government officials to print anything. When you look at the history of the printing press, it shows how valuable and important the First Amendment is.

But today, publishing or announcing “all” the news so people can make an informed opinion no longer exists. Leftist progressives and socialist supporters control a large swath of the “news,” and they select what they want you to know, whether it’s true or not, or simply ignored and omitted. 

This disdain for honor, valor, patriotism, ethics and honesty is like blood on the hands of today’s major media. 

As I’ve said for years, the left-wing media is not your friend or ally, and in fact, is an enemy to the traditions and Constitution of the United States of America. Too bad a free press only lasted for 225 years in America. Franklin is surely turning in his grave.

Maybe someday, the citizens of this nation will realize the injuries they have suffered from misinformation and bias and will rise up and quit supporting these denizens of destruction. 

Levin’s book title, “Unfreedom of the Press,” says it all. 

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