SHOOT THE MESSENGER
Meshawn’s other half, state Rep. Matt (Mad Dog) Maddock (R-Milford) is garnering quite a bit of national attention (see: Washington Post, CNN Reliable Sources), for a house bill he introduced that would require “fact checkers” – you know, like newspapers and other media sources – to register with the Michigan Secretary of State and post bonds of up to $1 million. The fact checking could be published physically or digitally. Affected parties could bring suit against the fact checkers (the ones checking to see if politicians are being truthful, and holding them accountable), and if successful, collect damages from the bond. Fines in the legislation are up to $1,000 a day. Just for checking out if something coming out of a lawmaker’s mouth – like Maddock, who has falsely promoted claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election and conspiracy theories – are true instead of made up. Both Maddocks have a history of screaming “First Amendment” for their rantings – yet critics of the bill note this would be a true test of the First Amendment. “I am not a lawyer, but that is clearly inconsistent with the First Amendment,” said Rick Edmonds, media business analyst, Poynter Institute. “I don’t know who is going to challenge this, but they should prevail. It restricts journalists and free press from doing their job.” “Requiring fact-checking journalists to register with the government would be an outrageous violation of the First Amendment, which says that the government shall make no law abridging the freedom of the press. It’s astounding that an elected official would put forth a proposal that’s so clearly unconstitutional,” Politifact Editor-in-Chief Angie Drobnic Holan told us. In a letter to Maddock, the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) said the “growing amount of disinformation and misinformation spread by political and ideological actors, some in powerful elected offices,” is what is necessitating the rise in fact checking.