How Mike Pence Went from First Amendment Advocate to Antagonist

By Nesbitt, Stephen J. | The Quill, Fall 2018 | Go to article overview

How Mike Pence Went from First Amendment Advocate to Antagonist


Nesbitt, Stephen J., The Quill


Mike Pence had come to protect the Fourth Estate.

In February 2005, five months before New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to disclose a source to a federal grand jury, Pence, an Indiana Republican in the House of Representatives, and Rep. Rick Boucher, a Virginia Democrat, introduced the Free Flow of Information Act, a federal shield bill that would have afforded reporters some protection from revealing sources.

At a news conference called on Capitol Hill, Pence delivered the opening remarks. "I would humbly offer that if we give people the knowledge, the republic will be saved," he said. "The media is the only entity in America that has complete freedom to hold government accountable."

The proposed bill, Pence told reporters, would "pound some rivets around the First Amendment." The bill passed twice in the House but was scuttled in the Senate. Still, Pence's unexpected advocacy earned him praise from the press. A Columbia Journalism Review profile of Pence in 2007 carried the headline, "The Shield Bearer: How a conservative congressman from Indiana became journalism's best ally in the fight to protect anonymous sources."

Another Columbia Journalism Review feature written in 2016, four months after Donald Trump picked Pence as his running mate, painted Pence as having grown far less transparent and forthcoming with press. It's hard to imagine he'd still be described as an ally to journalists today. Now, Pence, the man who once co-sponsored a failed yet important piece of journalism legislation, is a key figure in one of the most restrictive administrations in American history.

"This is a great irony of the situation Pence finds himself in," said Andrea Neal, whose biography of the vice president, "Pence: The Path to Power," was released Aug. 1. "He went from being seen as a champion of the First Amendment to now being an accomplice of Donald Trump in these almost-daily attacks on the news media.

"I don't think that's where Pence's heart is, but he's playing along."

'ONE OF MY GREAT INSPIRATIONS'

Pence's affinity for the First Amendment can be traced back to his childhood in Columbus, Indiana. His boyhood best friend, Jeffrey Brown, was the son of Robert N. Brown, the owner of the local newspaper, The Republic, and several other newspapers in the region. "[Pence] would have had a very early appreciation for the role of the press in the local community," Neal said.

Pence and Jeffrey Brown remained close. They were groomsmen in each other's weddings, and Pence later officiated at the funeral of Robert Brown. While speaking to the House Judiciary Committee about the shield bill in 2007, Pence pointed out Jeffrey Brown in the audience. Brown's father, he said, "had an enormous impact on my life and continues to be a lodestar to me of what it is to have integrity in journalism. Very much his example inspired my work on this."

(Pence, via his press secretary, didn't respond to requests for comment for this story.)

Pence's political stances regarding press rights also may have been informed by his time as a radio commentator, a foray that began in 1988 following the first of two failed congressional campaigns. Pence, who has described his style as "Rush Limbaugh on decaf" expanded his reach in 1994 when Network Indiana hired him to fill its weekday 9 a.m. to noon slot.

Scott Uecker, the former programming director at Network Indiana, said Pence was strong on his values but "very likable" He didn't play devil's advocate to get a rise out of listeners.

The "Mike Pence Show" helped revive his political career, boosting his name recognition prior to his third congressional campaign. Pence, who had lost to incumbent Phil Sharp by 6 points in 1988 and 18 points in 1990, took 50.9 percent of the vote in Indiana's 2nd Congressional District in 2000 and received at least 60 percent in each of the next five congressional elections.

"A lot of people have blamed us for making him the governor of Indiana," Uecker said. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

How Mike Pence Went from First Amendment Advocate to Antagonist
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.