Published on Monday 18 March 2013 22:37
I think we need to take heed of JFK’s warnings.
“President and the Press” Speech (April 27, 1961)
John Fitzgerald Kennedy
Last 4 paragraphs.
Without debate, without criticism, no Administration and no country
can succeed—and no republic can survive. That is why the Athenian
law-maker Solon decreed it a crime for any citizen to shrink from
controversy. And that is why our press was protected by the First
Amendment—the only business in America specifically protected by the
Constitution—not primarily to amuse and entertain, not to emphasize
the trivial and the sentimental, not to simply “give the public what
it wants”—but to inform, to arouse, to reflect, to state our dangers
and our opportunities, to indicate our crises and our choices, to
lead, mold, educate and sometimes even anger public opinion.
This means greater coverage and analysis of international news—for it
is no longer far away and foreign but close at hand and local. It
means greater attention to improved understanding of the news as well
as improved transmission. And it means, finally, that government at
all levels, must meet its obligation to provide you with the fullest
possible information outside the narrowest limits of national
security—and we intend to do it.
It was early in the Seventeenth Century that Francis Bacon remarked on
three recent inventions already transforming the world: the compass,
gunpowder and the printing press. Now the links between the nations
first forged by the compass have made us all citizens of the world,
the hopes and threats of one becoming the hopes and threats of us all.
In that one world’s efforts to live together, the evolution of
gunpowder to its ultimate limit has warned mankind of the terrible
consequences of failure.
And so it is to the printing press—to the recorder of man’s deeds, the
keeper of his conscience, the courier of his news—that we look for
strength and assistance, confident that with your help man will be
what he was born to be: free and independent.