Academic journal article Military Review

How Free Can the Press Be?

Academic journal article Military Review

How Free Can the Press Be?

Article excerpt

HOW FREE CAN THE PRESS BE? Randall P. Bezanson, University of Illinois Press, Champaign, 2003, 258 pages, $34.95.

How Free Can the Press Be? goes beyond narrow topics such as military-media mistrust, the public's right to know versus operational security, and the pros and cons of embedding reporters in units. This slim volume explores the purposes and limits of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of the press.

Leading First Amendment scholar Randall P. Bezanson has produced a stimulating and admirably evenhanded book that could not be more timely, given the grave dangers existing in our post-11 September 2001 world and the simultaneous expansion and ubiquity of media and information.

This book is like a Constitutional law seminar about nine court cases that run the gamut from the Pentagon Papers to hometown editors' travails with local politicians to a human cannonball who charged that television coverage of his act threatened his earning power. Through these vignettes, Bezanson, who writes highly entertaining, plain English, illuminates vexing questions of executive privilege, privacy, truth and fairness, fact and opinion, and media intrusiveness. he offers no solutions, but he equips readers to draw their own conclusions. …

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