Pub. date: 2009 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972048 | Print ISBN: 9780761929574 | Online ISBN: 9781412972048| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Military and the Media
Michael S. Sweeney
The armed forces and the news media always have been crucial to American democracy. The Constitution's Preamble underscores the importance of a strong military by declaring the need to secure liberty and provide for defense. The First Amendment enshrines free speech and free press as cornerstones of a representative government. Other than ensuring civilian control of the armed forces, however, the Constitution leaves unspecified how to resolve conflicts between the military and media. Conflicts spring mainly from the public's need for security versus its need for information. Secrecy protects against enemies. News that compromises wartime security risks death and destruction, or threatens democratic government by turning the tide of war. It is no surprise, then, that government and military officials have often pushed for restrictions on the news media since 1798, when Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Act to curb the open expression of public opinion during a time ...