The Press Clause of the First Amendment should be understood to require the government to permit coverage of war. Up to now, the Supreme Court has ascribed little independent significance to the Press Clause. It has protected the press under the Speech Clause when possible, and denied press claims that would require reading the Press Clause as creating rights not guaranteed to all speakers. Logistical and security concerns, however, make it impossible to give all speakers the access necessary to cover war. In all wars, the military tries to suppress news coverage that might undermine public support for the war. For instance, there was virtually no on-scene coverage of the invasion of Afghanistan in 2002. During the invasion of Iraq in 2003 the embedding journalists with military units gave the press many mole 's-eye views of combat but provided little information about the overall conduct and progress of the war. The Press Clause should be read as imposing limits on the government's ability to manipulate public opinion by restricting war coverage. This would not mean that every individual claiming to be press has a constitutional right of access to war zones, but it would mean that restrictions that make it impossible for the press to fulfill its institutional role, such as complete exclusion from the theater of operations, would be unconstitutional.
David A. Anderson,
Freedom of the Press in Wartime,
U. Colo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/lawreview/vol77/iss1/3