War and Press Freedom: The Problem of Prerogative Power / Edition 1

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War and Press Freedom: The Problem of Prerogative Power is a groundbreaking and provocative study of one of the most perplexing civil liberties issues in American history: What authority does or should the government have to control press coverage and commentary in wartime? First Amendment scholar Jeffery A. Smith shows convincingly that no such extraordinary power exists under the Constitution, and that officials have had to rely on claiming the existence of an autocratic "higher law" of survival. Smith carefully surveys the development of statutory restrictions and military regulations for the news media from the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791 through the Gulf War of 1991. He concludes that the armed forces can justify refusal to divulge a narrow range of defense secrets, but that imposing other restrictions is unwise, unnecessary, and unconstitutional. In any event, as electronic communication becomes almost impossible to constrain, soldiers and journalists must learn how to respect each other's obligations in a democratic system.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Smith] has put together an informed, detailed, and delightful analysis of the gradual erosion of a free press....Smith's strength in this volume is his relentless use of historical example to demonstrate a pervasive erosion of constitutional principle....[Smith] has amassed a powerful argument that concessions to national security lead to a withering of freedom and the emergence of an autocratic secretive' government."— The Law and Politics Book Review

Praise for Jeffery A. Smith's Previous Books

Envisioning the Enlightened Republic
(OUP, 1990)

"[Smith is] a thoughtful and compelling writer....He provides insights into both men not found elsewhere. He makes a major contribution in portraying the Jeffersonian journalism of the Federalist period as more than mere namecalling."—Journalism Quarterly

The Ideology of Early American Journalism
(OUP, 1988)

"A splendidly researched and persuasively argued historical review of the original intention of the First Amendment's promise of press freedom."—The New York Times Book Review

"This ambitious, audacious effort rethinks large chunks of American and English history in relation to eighteenth-century American newspapering and pamphleteering and presents the origins of First Amendment theory in a new light."—Journalism Quarterly

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195099461
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffery A. Smith is a professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Iowa.

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Table of Contents

I. Intentions and Interpretations
1. War, Autocracy, and the Constitution
2. The Purpose of the Press Clause
3. Suspending the Press Clause
II. "Higher Law" in Practice
4. The Federalists and the French Revolution
5. The Rise of Presidential Prerogatives
6. The Bureaucratization of Wartime Censorship
7. The Long, Cold War
III. The Risks of Repression
8. The Mass Media: Scapegoats and Sycophants

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