I was at a conference on free speech this weekend, and thus missed the excitement of balloon boy and other assorted tempests in a teapot. I did, however, catch bits of Obama's speech, in which he joins Congress in threatening to remove the insurance company's anti-trust exemption, as a not-so-hidden payback for their report on insurance premiums. Why should I worry about this so much? Isn't this just libertarian hysteria?
I don't think it is. I think this is fundamentally about freedom of the press.
I know, I know--it's just an industry-funded study! How can I elevate that to "the press"?
Because the idea we have about journalists being some sacred, special group that has "freedom of the press" is, like the idea that militias=national guard, pretty ahistorical. Freedom of the press was not a right accorded to the profession of journalism, on the grounds of their sacred and responsible conduct, because there was no profession of journalism. Presses were owned by individuals, who engaged in all manner of speech, commercial and non. Freedom of the press was not the freedom to own a newspaper or magazine, and say what you wanted therein. It was the freedom to disseminate written speech.
I know that at least some of my readers are gearing up to point out that we do regulate commercial speech. But this wasn't commercial speech. It wasn't even speech by a corporation. AHIP is a legal trade association.