The White House — which has been pilloried by the press corps for limiting access to President Barack Obama — is getting a dubious award for those efforts: a Jefferson Muzzle.
Handed out by the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression, the Muzzles — now in their 23rd year — are bestowed by the center on individuals and institutions it says are “responsible for some of the more egregious or ridiculous affronts to First Amendment principles.”
This past year was remarkable for freedom of the press issues, said Josh Wheeler, director of the center.
The headline focuses on the White House (and rightly so), but some of the other “Muzzles” handed out are almost too good to be true…
Pemberton Township High School (New Jersey) Principal Ida Smith: “To fulfill an assignment for her journalism class, a Pemberton Township High School student wrote a column on smoking in the school bathrooms. The column was selected to appear in the school newspaper, but Principal Ida Smith deemed the article “inappropriate” and refused to allow it to be published. When another student wrote about the departure of the district’s athletic director, Smith herself removed text indicating that the athletic director declined to be interviewed and that no one had been hired to fill the position. Frustrated by what they saw as unwarranted interference by a school official, staffers proposed a story examining student expression rights and censorship issues. Smith then informed the students that they could not publish an article about censorship.”