Freedom of the press is not absolute. White paper by attorney R. Tamara de Silva argues that stealth legislation under legislative title of seeming to protect the right of citizens to speak freely about their government and interests in the form of the Illinois Citizen Participation Act (ILCPA) was actually sponsored by the Media to give Media defendants unconstitutional and absolute immunity. The ILCPA not only gives the Media absolute immunity against Illinois lawsuits but also requires private parties to pay for the Media's attorneys' fees.
Recently Circuit Court Judge James Ryan filed suit against Fox News and the Better Government Association for running a sensationalized "investigative" story about the Judge being at home when he should have been working by showing a picture of his car parked at this house. Judge Ryan's complaint points out that the alleged journalists got their facts wrong because it was not his house and not his car. Attorney, R. Tamara de Silva questions why media defendants in these instances should be given absolute immunity against suits like Judge Ryan's through the ILCPA, "Granting the Media absolute immunity is a breathtakingly unfair move to protect a single industry by chilling the speech or protests of private citizens not only by effectively pricing them out of the courtroom, but by ensuring that in giving the Media immunity-they cannot prevail."
"The ILCPA must be amended at a minimum to conform to its stated legislative purpose, that is to protect the rights of citizens to speak freely about matters that affect their government and their interests. It is unconscionable that this purpose be turned on its head and that the ILCPA be used to grant the media absolute immunity from National Inquirer-esq news stories, thinly veiled as "investigative journalism," while preventing private citizens from going to court by the imposition of massive legal fees. Having this Act slip into Illinois law by stealth under the rubric of good governance legislation is another matter entirely" Said Ms. de Silva.
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