We strongly oppose House Bill House Bill 734. We urge our state representatives — Sam Watson of Moultrie and Jay Powell of Camilla as well as all their colleagues — to flatly reject this measure sponsored by Rep. Andy Welch of McDonough.
Welch introduced the measure calling for state oversight of the media on the last day of the legislative session which clearly demonstrates the north Georgia lawmaker was posturing, grandstanding and trying to make a point.
The only point he made is that he clearly does not understand the importance of a free and unfettered press or in the basic nature of democracy.
Welch’s attack on the press is an assault upon freedom and the people of Georgia.
The press must always be unencumbered and completely independent of government.
The press must be free to operate as an independent watchdog, holding our public institutions accountable.
As an attorney and member of the state judiciary committee Welch should understand such basic tenets.
Obviously, he does not.
He seems to want to punish the press for coverage that he did not like.
Lawmakers must be above that kind of pettiness and shortsightedness.
Of course, the media should operate in an above-board, ethical manner but that does not mean that government should ever have a role in regulating the press.
The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press in no uncertain terms.
Welch’s oversight bill flies in the face of that fundamental American freedom.
Welch wants the state to create an oversight arm, write an official code of ethics and police the media.
Who would have ever thought that a conservative Georgia politician would push for a state-run media?
By getting the measure out of committee Welch assured it would remain alive for the next legislative session.
When it arrives at the 2020 session we intend to help make sure it is dead on arrival.
We encourage you to read the related DomeLight column — “Fettered press is not a free press.”