.…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
In 1787 Thomas Jefferson summarized the essential nature of a free press to ensuring democratic governance with the following lines, written from Paris where he served as chief U.S. diplomat to France.
His voice in support of the role played by the media in casting off tyranny and authoritarianism comes as a warning to us today.
“The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution.
“To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs through the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people.
“The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
“But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”
Stay informed. Keep vigilant. One rescinded press pass today means two fewer eyes on our government tomorrow.