Today, President Trump’s press secretary banned a number of prominent news outlets from his press briefing.
From The New York Times (online): Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times and Politico were not allowed to enter the West Wing office of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer, for the scheduled briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer only allowed in reporters from a handpicked group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.
The behavior of the White House is eerily reminiscent of the Star Chamber, an English court that started out with good intentions but which grew, over the centuries, into a court with endless authority.
From Wikipedia: In modern usage, legal or administrative bodies with strict, arbitrary rulings and secretive proceedings are sometimes called, metaphorically or poetically, star chambers. This is a pejorative term and intended to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the proceedings. ‘Star Chamber’ can also be used in its original meaning, for instance when a politician uses parliamentary privilege to attack a powerful organisation or person. …
The power of the Court of Star Chamber grew considerably under the House of Stuart, and by the time of King Charles I, it had become synonymous with misuse and abuse of power by the King and his circle. …
King Charles made extensive use of the Court of Star Chamber to prosecute dissenters, including the Puritans who fled to New England. This was also one of the causes of the English Civil War.
On 17 October 1632, the Court of Star Chamber banned all “news books” because of complaints from Spanish and Austrian diplomats that coverage of the Thirty Years’ War in England was unfair. …
The Star Chamber became notorious for judgments favourable to the king. Archbishop Laud had William Prynne branded on both cheeks through its agency in 1637 for seditious libel.
President Trump isn’t a court of law. In fact, he sometimes acts as if there aren’t courts of law in the United States. American citizens must fight to protect our free press and our civil liberties. To do this, we must keep up with current events and learn about previous abuses of power, so as to prevent them from being repeated.
As George Santayana, wrote in The Life of Reason (1905), “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Other people said the same thing, using slightly different words, and they were all right.