In War, How Free is Free Speech?

Wartime is a vulnerable time for any government, where public opinion is vital to the success or failure. This where a need for controlled media must come into effect, the people must believe what they are being told is the truth and justifies such warfare. In the words of Walter Lippmann “We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always downloadpropaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is the truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and crusade for peace.”  How can this be, as there are multiple sides to every warfare conflict, so wouldn’t that make sense that both sides are presenting propaganda, while both sides sell there propaganda as the absolute truth, but with free speech of the media, how can this happen? Well keep in mind that journalism is a business, so military officials can hold back information causing a level of desperation for good stories, they will slowly feed stories that are beneficial to the public opinion of the war. This leads to dwelling on successes no matter how insignificant in the long run as well as limiting the air time of the setbacks that do get out to the public. With all the limitation of information how can speech really be free? In reality it isn’t, what is thought to be original stories from a well balanced view are actually lopsided stories from fragmented origins preprocessed by the ‘shaping hand’ of the institutions of which we trust, thereby limiting journalist’s agency by limiting their voice. U.S. Senator Hiram Johnson sums it up best, “The first casualty when war comes is truth.”

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