In his speech on May 9, 2010 at Hampton University, President Barack Obama told the graduates, “You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank all that high on the truth meter … information becomes a distraction, a diversion a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation …” Information is NOT a distraction or a diversion. It is an essential component of democracy. Information leads to the truth. That is why the Founders enshrined Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press in the First Amendment. A wide variety of opinions and commentaries were published in the early days of our Republic. The Founders trusted the public to be smart enough to sift through the information and find the truth.
It is interesting that the President made these comments at a time when the administration is seeking to regulate the internet as a “public utility.” Every person who supports democracy, whether on the left, right, or center, should support the free flow of information and not the regulation or control of information.