Mark Friedman Fights For Freedom Of The Press

Mark Friedman is not a journalist. He’s not married to a reporter, and there are none in his family.

But the Westport investment advisor is one of our town’s staunchest defenders of freedom of the press.

And — if his side business catches fire — he might become one of the nation’s strongest too.

Friedman runs a website: It’s not fancy, but neither is its mission.

Mark Friedman, at Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

Freedom of the press is “the only effectual guardian of every other right,” said James Madison — it’s right there, on Friedman’s home page — and the site is devoted to recent stories about assaults on the First Amendment.

There are links to organizations like the Committee to Protect Journalists, Newseum and the National Constitution Center.

And “I ♥ Freedom of the Press” merchandise, like t-shirts and car magnets.

Friedman’s respect for the Constitution and Bill of Rights was sparked when he practiced law. Then — “called to teaching” — he spent a decade at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, where as an English and history instructor he gave serious thought to those foundations of democracy.

Now, in Westport, he spends time as an RTM member, PTA and sports volunteer. Starting this fall, he’ll teach Sunday school.

Over the last couple of years, as attacks on the press mounted, Friedman grew concerned. “‘Enemy of the people’ is a Stalinist phrase. It was used to persecute,” he says.

Friedman believes that freedom of the press is important to all citizens, of any political party. He wanted to find a “non-partisan, unifying and positive” way to reinforce the notion.

During World War II, his uncle — past the age of enlistment — nonetheless joined the military. He wanted to help save democracy.

“I’m not putting my life in danger,” Friedman notes. “But the spirit is the same: fighting and honoring those who fought before us, so we could be here now.”

He worked with his wife to refine the website concept. His middle school son helped with the design.

Mark Friedman’s merchandise.

People are noticing. Last week, at a baseball game, an usher noticed Friedman’s shirt. Her son works in media, and she wanted to know how to get one.

Some people scream “fake news!,” Friedman says. But positive comments far outweigh negative ones.

His goal is to get Americans to think about the concept of freedom of the press — and the patriotism and courage of reporters.

The Newseum has a memorial to journalists killed in the line of duty. Most are in far-off places. Now, Friedman says, “it’s chilling that reporters face hostile crowds here. Things could turn violent.”

He hopes not. But if they do, he’ll fully support the journalists who cover that breaking news.

28 responses to “Mark Friedman Fights For Freedom Of The Press

  1. Thank you, Mark, for actually doing what all of us concerned, but all too lazy , folks ought to be doing. Is there a way to pay for a bunch of T shirts for you to give out?

  2. Good job mark

  3. Mark, great job, and thank you. Freedom of the press needs to always be part of our democracy. I just wish all the press would act in a non bias manner and simply report the facts.

    • Such a great point Jimmy.

      Journalists flacking for their own or their employers political preferences jeopardize the constitutional prerogatives All REAL Journalists, (& that can includes bloggers) NEED in order to do their jobs. And ‘the paycheck depends on how many clicks your reports get’ that so many journalists are now burdened with impairs Real Journalism, the kind of journalism the constitution provided protections and privileges for.

      Susan Farley

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      That’s a great idea. There is a place (and its a holy one) for adversarial reporting but the high art of uncovering the facts versus making them up seems to have become lost in the shuffle. No wonder reality TV has become the new opiate of the masses.

  4. Reporting the news has become a dangerous career right here in the U.S., very sad. Freedom of the Press is one of the basic rights in a democracy.

  5. Just thought folks might appreciate this fuller account of the origins of the term “enemy of the people” from Wikipedia. It was a term of abuse way before Stalin adopted it to his own brutal ends:

    The term enemy of the people is a designation for the political or class opponents of the subgroup in power within a larger group. The term implies that by opposing the ruling subgroup, the “enemies” in question are acting against the larger group, for example against society as a whole. It is similar to the notion of “enemy of the state”. The term originated in Roman times as Latin: hostis publicus, typically translated into English as the “public enemy”. The term in its “enemy of the people” form has been used for centuries in literature (see An Enemy of the People, the play by Henrik Ibsen, 1882; or Coriolanus, the play by William Shakespeare, c. 1605). Currently this form is mostly used as a reference to Soviet phraseology.[1]

  6. Wendy Batteau

    How wonderful, Mark!

  7. Daryl Styner, D.D.S.

    Fuuly support this endeavor! Thank you for your efforts & perseverence…
    Where can we buy those T-shirts & bumper stickers.

  8. Great idea! Is This a non-profit, What % of proceeds are going to what freedom of press organizations, etc., ie Such a great concept & look.

    Susan Farley

  9. Elizabeth Thibault

    Ordered magnets and shirts, for both myself and my legislator FIL. We need to reinforce and emphasize the need for a strong Fourth Estate these days.
    It enables transparency and integrity of governmental entities, who’s first obligation is to govern for the benefit OF THE PEOPLE, not corporations, plutocrats, or oligarchs!

    • The Fourth Estate is owned by corporations, plutocrats, and oligarchs.

      • Elizabeth Thibault

        Journalists are often employed by those, but that doesn’t mean they check their integrity in their service. Does this mean you think journalists like Dan or Tyler Hicks are tools of the machine? Outlets of renown have firewalls between owners and newsrooms. It’s always good to read with a critical eye, but it’s also good to not allow our biases and suspicions to tilt us to tinfoil hat wearers.

        • Reporters are employees of corporations. The objective of the corporations is to enhance the wealth of their owners. So yes, they are tools of the machine. Integrity is of no value it does not improve profits.

          • Peter Gambaccini

            How tediously predictable you are

            • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

              Peter, soliloquies have no place in serious venues like Dan’s blog. Mirror, mirror on the wall…..

          • I agree, Michael. The 1st Amendment press freedoms should be suspended until all the media outlets are wrested from greedy private enterprise control and handed over to Peoples’ Cooperatives! Dictatorship of the Proletariat, right?

            • No. I merely pointed out that the Fourth Estate is composed of profit making entities. If the market wants to buy their product, they will survive. The government has no incentive to provide a product consumers want.

              • Elizabeth Thibault

                Not quite sure where you’ve gotten the idea, from any of the comments in this thread, that anyone wants the government providing news coverage. The government has an obligation to be transparent and readily provide information for it’s activity to be reported on. The journalists do this and most do their darndest to provide news that is clear, understandable, and reliable.
                It’s quite telling to malign their character as is being done, to say that only a profit motive matters in reporting. Naw, son. Step away from the financial instruments and understand how a civil society works. We’re not yet in the world of winner take all, and might makes right.

                • “Son” that is very funny. Belittling, but funny Mr. Blau suggested he wanted media outlets wrested from greedy private enterprise. Journalists are hired by profit making organizations to help make profits. I did not malign their character. Making a profit is a commendable activity. I never said only a profit motive matters; step away from the straw man.

                  • Russell Gontar

                    Journalists are hired to collect, write and distribute news or other current information to the public. Period. Journalists are NOT hired to make up and sell an artificial “news product” to appease their employers and the bottom. If that’s your idea of journalism, then you must be great fan of Foxnews, Brietbart and Infowars where facts don’t exist and Obama still hasn’t proved his citizenship yet.

                  • Elizabeth Thibault

                    Common turn of phrase with today’s “youths.”

              • I understand your point but it isn’t entirely accurate. What about organizations like the Connecticut Mirror and NPR? They’re both non-profits and two of my favorite news sources.

          • Russell Gontar

            You really have a hell of a nerve smearing reporters by suggesting that they compromise their personal and professional integrity in order to ensure their employers profit margins. Reporters get up every day and often put themselves and their families at significant risk in order to break through the Trump Incorporated/Putin/Foxnews war on the Truth and on America. Are they the tools or are you?

  10. How brilliant, how simple. May it go viral. mmm

  11. Mark this is great! Let me know when you’re stocked up on shirts and I’ll send a blast to my law school friends about them. I think kids’ sizes would do very well too – I’d get 4 for my little ones.