Blog 2: Paladino vs. First Amendment

By: Kristina Beverly

Did you miss the drama between Carl Paladino, the Republican nominee in the New York governor’s race, and the state editor of the New York Post, Frederic U. Dicker?

Reminiscent of an elementary school brawl at recess, it involved fingers poked at chests, raised voices and a confrontation that came so close to blows that Paladino’s campaign manager had to get between the candidate and the reporter.

“Who the hell are you?” Dicker said to the campaign manager.

“I’ll take you out, buddy,” Paladino warned Dicker.

“How’re you going to do that?” Dicker asked.

“Watch!” Paladino said.

If that wasn’t enough, Paladino did an interview with Fox Business News’ Judge Napolitano on the program “Freedom Watch”, where he says that he does not want Dicker to cover the campaign—which has journalists and First Amendment activists up in arms.

“This reporter is a person that should be out of this campaign. I want him out. My daughter – I worry about her every day, I worry about her security,” said Paladino in the “Freedom Watch” interview.

This raises a couple of issues:

First, it’s up to Dicker’s bosses at the New York Post whether or not he covers the campaign. And I would imagine that nothing can ruffle the Post’s feathers more than the government, or potential governmental figures, trying to change their coverage decisions.

Second, there’s a little thing called the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Some would question Paladino, who wants to be governor of a state that operates under the U.S. Constitution and who is also a lawyer, and how his demand that Dicker be removed from covering his campaign adheres to the principles of Constitution.

However, for the sake of argument, I can’t help but think that Dicker should be taken off the campaign. The campaign coverage should be impartial and Paladino-Dicker bout became too personal. Although Dicker is a seasoned reporter, I’m not sure if he can be objective at this point.

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