Why a Free Press is Essential to Democracy panel discussion


    Presented by Indivisible Arizona and Tucson Jews for Justice

    Why a Free Press is Essential to Democracy


    Doors will open at 5:30, and Professor Bambauer’s presentation will begin promptly at 6pm.



    “UA College of Law Professor Jane Bambauer will open the event with a presentation highlighting the history and importance of the 1st Amendment. Following a brief panel discussion, audience questions and comments will be welcomed.

    Join Emcee David Fitzsimmons and panelists Joe Ferguson, Jim Nintzel, Dylan Smith, Caitlin Schmidt, Mari Herreras, Republican National Committeeman Bruce Ash and Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik for this timely and important community conversation.

    Is the First Amendment Freedom of the Press under attack? Or is the media simply engaged in ‘fake news’ that’s finally being called out for the bias it represents? Come and take part in a panel discussion co-hosted by Indivisible Southern Arizona and Tucson Jews for Justice where the current controversy surrounding the press, bias and the interaction between the media and public officials will be explored.

    This is a rental of The Loft Cinema, presented by Indivisible Southern Arizona and Tucson Jews for Justice.”

    Why a Free Press is Essential to Democracy

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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for Tucsoncitizen.com for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, www.southernazjapan.org (since Jan. 2013).


    1. Law Professor Bambauer spoke about Donald Trump’s uneasy relationship with the 1st Amendment, and covered topics such as hate speech, incitement, indecency, defamation. She said that DT’s Twitter account was considered a public forum, so he couldn’t block his critics. She discussed Civil Liberty Model of 1st Amendment vs. Egalitarian Model. Quoted Wi nston Churchill in 1947 who said that democracy was “the worst form of government.” What can journalists do to calm the tensions – work against ignorance of the populace, be aware of the populist message that preys on fears & misconceptions, and that voters are driven by “team sport mentality, not disagreement on the issues.
      MC Fitz called himself a “token partisan hack” and introduced the panelists – Joe Freguson, reporter w/ AZ Daily Star, Dylan Smith, editor/publisher of online TucsonSentinel.com, Bruce Ash, Republican National Committeman, Ward 6 Councilman Steve K, Mari Herreras, formerly Editor of Tucson Weekly and Caitlin Schmidt, also with AZ Daily Star. Steve K spoke of the value & bias of the media, with now lots of media outlets posing as news sources, plus prevalence of social media, so how do people determine what is news or fake news? Smith quoted Thomas Jefferson saying that “newspapers without government” preferred than the opposite, esp. now w/ less reporters than 15 years ago. Ash agreed that news should be multi-faceted, not just “talking heads”. Herreras left journalism for YWCA advocacy, after 10 years, low pay. Schmidt said there were small victories in good reporting.
      Question by Fitz: reaction of panel about incendiary cartoon by colleague on Judge Kavanaugh, and cartoonist got death threats. Herreras said she got one on her car after reporting on Mexican American Studies at TUSD. Schmidt said she got one for reporting on a lawsuit, Smith said that one should not cross line into violence, that nasty notes/calls are worrisome. Ferguson said FBI told them about serious Nazi threat at Flagstaff paper, and Kovachik said he got threats after his stance on gun control and when he changed from R to D. Ash said he got hundreds as 2016 RNC Elector, that more civility is needed. Fitz mentioned that those who threaten seem to have loss their “faith in democracy”.
      Question re: use of swastika in Germany banned. Smith said ban was not good, need free & vigorous exchange of ideas; Ash said as a Jew he believed in free speech, that removal of Confederate statues not good; Herraras disagreed with him as reconciliation needed re: Civil War statutes, as well as treatment of people of color, trans individuals.
      Question re: treatment of Alex Jones (banishment from social media/Twitter). Most agreed he has lost his privileges on a private social media company.
      Question about politicians “sucking up” to journalists. Ferguson said that politicians don’t need newspapers now, with other media sources available; Smith said that the voters let politicians “ get away” with bad behavior, should ask them the hard questions.
      Question about U.S. Senate candidate not debating in Tucson, using their own means to send out propaganda. Ash said that he was involved with 2012 Presidential debates, whether to continue to not. Steve K mentioned next week’s candidate forum on Oct. 8 at the Loft, that all 3 Democrats will attend (Gov. AG, CD 2 candidates) but no Republicans.
      Question re: needing newspaper endorsements as voters have little/no time to do research on all candidates. Smith said voters need to be informed, make own choices w/o endorsements from the papers.
      Attending tonight were candidates Alma Hernandez (LD 3 House) and Consuelo Hernandez (Sunnyside School Bd.)


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