The French are so concerned the Russians or someone else might try to influence their elections that they are cracking down on what they consider to be "fake news."

The French Cultural Minister says new laws will be enacted this spring to identify and quickly react to fake news stories whether published online or through traditional media. Minister Francoise Nyssen tells FRANCE 24 there will be strong sanctions if there is an unwillingness to comply with the obligations of cooperation and transparency imposed by the new law.  She says however that she supports a free press. Sure sounds it.

France is not alone. England is threatening a crackdown on internet sites and Germany threatens social media with significant fines if they do not remove fake news and hateful posts immediately, according to Fox News. Seems a growing number of European governments are living in fear of what they perceive to be Russian propaganda.

So, what do you think? Over the last year or two Americans have become all too familiar with the fake news issue and what some would call propaganda being put out there by media on all sides of the political spectrum.

Would you favor some sort of government regulation of the news media?  If so, in what form? Who would draft the regulations and how would they be enforced?  What would penalties for non-compliance look like?

I fear the most dangerous of slippery slopes if we put the government in charge of deciding what can and cannot be reported and how. The free press is as fundamental to the country as the constitution itself.

As distasteful and obnoxious as the modern press can be at times I cannot support any kind of government regulation. I have faith in the American people to sort through the mess and find the truth.

What say you?

Editor's Note: Barry Richard is the afternoon host on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from Noon-3 p.m. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.



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